|Stop the assaults on press freedom|
|Written by the Zumel Center|
|Saturday, 01 December 2007 13:00|
The Antonio Zumel Center for Press Freedom joins all media outfits and people’s organizations in condemning the arrest of members of print and broadcast media who were covering the Makati standoff yesterday (Nov. 29). The journalists, TV and radio reporters and crew were taken to a military camp in Manila after the siege by troops loyal to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on some 30 rebel soldiers who walked out of their trial and marched to a posh hotel in Makati to hold a press conference to denounce the corruption, scandals and human rights violations of the Arroyo government and to call for her ouster.
The members of the media were handcuffed and hauled to a bus and taken to a military camp to verify their identities. The Arroyo government justified their arrest on the pretext that rebel soldiers allegedly mixed with the crowd and posed as journalists. The military and police confiscated the media’s video tapes of the coverage of the press conference of the rebel soldiers and the siege. Among those arrested were well-known TV news reporters and radio announcers. Other civilians were also arrested apart from the 30 rebel soldiers.
The arrest of the media reporters and crew seriously violates freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It also denies the people their right to know what was happening in Makati yesterday. It has once again debunked the official propaganda and hype that Arroyo government safeguards press freedom. Lest everyone forgets, whenever there is a coup or an imminent threat to Arroyo’s continued rule, the media have always been targeted. Journalists and other media people continue to top the list of victims of extrajudicial killings. The Philippines is second to Iraq in the number of media personnel killed.
We join the media organizations in the Philippines in calling a stop to the assaults on press freedom and free speech in the Philippines.