By NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES
Brazen and baseless restrictions on media have no place in a democracy.
This week has been marked by at least two instances of sudden and unexplained restrictions on journalists covering issues of public interest.
These were the barring of media from covering the proceedings in the charges filed against real estate developer Delfin Lee, alleged brains of the P7-billion Globe Asiatique housing scam, at the Regional Trial Court in City of San Fernando on Monday; and the restrictions imposed on journalists covering the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, especially those pursuing the continuing “tanim bala” scandal.
In both instances, no reason or explanation was given the media.
While there may be valid reasons to bar media from covering an event, neither of these issues fit the known criteria, such as national security, diplomacy, privacy or protecting the identities of children and women.
Keeping a lid on the trial of Lee would deprive the victims of the housing scam of their right to information on a case on which many of their lives and futures literally hinge.
In the case of the NAIA, the only reason we see for the sudden restrictions on media is to cloak the truth on the alleged extortion racket. Indeed, such a move can only backfire on NAIA and the personnel suspected of the scandal if it turns out, as they claim, that the “tanim bala” is a fiction “blown out of proportion.”
The NUJP demands the immediate lifting of these sudden and unexplained restrictions on journalists covering crucial issues on public interest. These restrictions are only perpetuating the culture of impunity that is plaguing the country where wrongdoers go unpunished. Such acts have no place in a democracy that is already suffering from the distinction of being the 4th most dangerous country for journalists as per the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist’s 2015 Global Impunity Index and even as we are commemorating the International End Impunity Campaign from November 2 to 23. # nordis.net