Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cameraman wearing 'Stop Killing Journalists!' shirt prevented by PSG from going near President Arroyo

January 12, 2010

A camera man of GMA-7 network in Iloilo City was prevented from nearing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the Iloilo airport on January 12 because he was wearing a shirt decrying the Ampatuan Massacre.

Camera man Cirilo Renduque and reporter Fabienne Paderes were not allowed to go near the tarmac as Arroyo arrived around 2:40 p.m.

Renduque was wearing a black shirt with "Stop Killing Journalists" on the front along with the names of among the 31 journalists killed in the massacre.

The PSG member at first told the tv crew that Renduque was wearing a "plain shirt" which was not allowed. But when he learned that they were from GMA-7, he even joked that he would have allowed them if Renduque instead had a "Kapuso" shirt on.

The crew was allowed to take footages of Arroyo during her engagement at the Western Visayas Sanitarium but the same PSG member approached Paredes and asked why Renduque had not changed his shirt.

Bayan, media groups hold protest: “No bail for Ampatuan!”

News Release
January 13, 2010

Bayan, media groups hold protest: “No bail for Ampatuan!”

On the second hearing of Andal Ampatuan, Jr., principal accused in the Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao, human rights advocates led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and media groups belonging to the November 23 Movement held a protest action in front of Camp Crame. The groups opposed the granting of bail for Ampatuan while supporting calls for media coverage of the court proceedings.

“We are holding this mass action to support the massacre victims in their opposition to the petition for bail of the principal accused. This action is part efforts of various watchdog groups who want to see justice achieved in this case. We agree with the prosecution that evidence is strong against Andal, Jr., ” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“We also would like to air our support for Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes who is trying this case. We are aware of the dangers and threats she may face in the course of the trial. We’d like to give her the people’s support as she carries out her mandate and duty as a judge,” Reyes added.

Bayan said it was important that the public closely follow the whole case and demand greater transparency in the proceedings.

“The demand for greater media coverage is a reasonable one. There is great public interest in this particular case. Public vigilance is also an important counter-balance to any attempts to undermine the case,” Reyes said.

Private armies

Bayan called on the Arroyo government to dismantle para-military groups such as CAFGU’s and CVO’s as the country enters the election period. Recently, the Comelec has exempted CAFGU’s from the nationwide gun ban.

“Para-military groups, whether CAFGU’s or CVO’s, should be dismantled now. The campaign against private armies will not go far if these armed civilians are not disbanded by the very government that created them,” Reyes said.

“There is a great possibility that in many places, these so-called counter-insurgency ‘force multipliers’ are nothing more than armed goons of local warlords for the elections. Up to now, the Arroyo government has not rescinded EO 546 despite growing calls for its junking,” Reyes added.

The demand for scrapping EO 546 was aired anew after the President convened the National Security Council for the first time since 2005. The NSC meeting discussed the dismantling of private armies nationwide.

“The exemption of CAFGU’s from the gun ban does not help in the cause of dismantling private armed groups,” Reyes said. ###

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Media restrictions in Ampatuan trial must be lifted

November 23 Movement
January 12, 2010

Media restrictions in Ampatuan trial must be lifted

We view with concern the continued refusal by the court presided by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to allow live coverage of the Ampatuan trial. We are also concerned about the restrictions imposed by the court and the Philippine National Police on journalists covering the proceedings.

While we respect the view that a trial by publicity can be detrimental to the accused, we fail to see how that can happen in this case. The Ampatuan case is extremely important for the public, the media and the relatives of the victims. The media and the public -- particularly those who live outside Metro Manila and who can only follow the proceedings through the  -- need to know exactly what is going on inside the courtroom.

As though it wasn’t enough to ban live coverage, the court and the PNP have likewise restricted the way journalists cover the trial. They disallowed the use of mobile phones, laptops and recording devices inside the courtroom and have also limited the number of journalists who can get inside. Needless to say, these hamper how journalists perform their tasks.

We concede that the court has to abide by some rules during the course of a trial. But restrictions in the Ampatuan trial are, at best, unreasonable and, at worst, a violation of press freedom and the public’s right to know.

At a time when the Philippine press is under assault like never before, these restrictions are the last thing we need.

November 23 Movement

Carlos H. Conde, spokesman
Tel.: +63-9081601997
Twitter: @nov23movement

Jan 13 Protest by Journalists to Demand Justice for Ampatuan Victims


Who: November 23 Movement
When: Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Where & What Time:
Why: To call for justice for the victims of the Ampatuan/Maguindanao massacre and for independent investigation of this heinous crime

•    Bring streamers and placards

•    Please wear black.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

No to Martial Law

A Joint Media Statement
5 December 2009

We absolutely oppose the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao and, prospectively, anywhere else in the country.

We believe that, with the severe restrictions on freedoms it imposes, on the one hand, and the wide latitude of police, military, and official powers it allows, on the other, martial law will only compound the troubles it has been precisely intended to deal with.

Indeed, we believe that normal powers exercised by a decisive, strong-willed, and well-intentioned leadership are enough to bring the perpetrators of the November 23 massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, to justice.

History offers clear, powerful, and painful enough lessons in the deceptive promises of martial law: It has been used for repression, instead of justice.

The November 23 Movement *

Business World
Center for Community Journalism and Development
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
College Editors Guild of the Philippines
Davao Today
Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project
Philippine Press Institute
Pinoy Weekly
People’s Journal
Southeast Asia Press Alliance
VERA Files

* The November 23 Movement is a loose coalition of media organizations calling for justice to fellow journalists and other innocent civilians who were abducted, slaughtered and hastily buried in mass graves in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on November 23, 2009. It has been calling for an independent investigation of the crime that killed 30 journalists in a single attack, suddenly catapulting the Philippines as the world’s deadliest place for journalists.