NUJP: Understand, Madam President

NUJP’s Press Statement
November 10, 2005

We appreciate President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s effort to fight terrorism in the country. Unfortunately she seems to be firing her guns all over and is hitting innocent victims, journalists included.

Mrs. Arroyo complained about criticisms she got after she disclosed an “intelligence report” about journalist Julius Babao’s alleged role in bailing out a terrorist.

Madam President, your intelligence report was wrong. When the media reported Babao’s denial, they were not criticizing you, they were telling you the information you got from your people was wrong. The media were reporting a story.

Again, we appreciate your effort to fight terrorism, but we would like to point out that journalists were not “overly sensitive” when we pointed out that you should check your facts before linking people to crimes they didn’t commit.

Yes, some journalists “arrogated the license to fire away at anybody.” We are doing our best to check this and discipline our ranks, but you have no right, Madam President, to dictate us what stories we report.

The Philippine media has matured. We know our responsibilities. Without a mature media that reported the excesses of the previous administration, there could have been no EDSA Dos that put you, Madam President, in power.

We would also like to point out, Madam President, that the five million-peso fund that your administration put up for slain journalists has not been released until now. The quick reaction team has not been formed and most of the cases of killings of journalists have not been solved.

The Philippine media has not become part of the “national malaise” hindering development in our country because of “negative reports” about your administration. Actually most reports that appear in newspapers and television and radio broadcasts are “positive stories.”

Madam President, the Philippine media is doing its best to be true to our job to report what is going on in this country. If ever these reports hurt you or your administration, take a second look before firing your guns, something must be wrong with what your administration has been doing.

Jose Torres Jr.
Chairman, Commission for the Protection of Journalists
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

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