Thank you all for your concern.
I was released 10:30 p.m. with Malaya Makati reporter Azchel Hachero, my blog trainee Jerome Layug, and more than 20 other journalists who were brought to Camp Bagong Diwa to be processed.
Some were finger-printed and told to undergo drug test. Our lawyers were not allowed to enter the camp. It’s a good thing the Abs-cBN assisted us. We were told to just give nothing more than our name and information on our ID.
Treating us like common criminals was simply condemnable.
The Philippine Press Institute condemns the arbitrary arrest of members of the media who covered the standoff at the Manila Peninsula.
We see clear danger in the government’s seemingly hasty interpretation that the coverage and reporting of the standoff threatens national security as this may be the only ground that government may use in rounding up those who stayed inside the hotel.
We will continue to fight for press freedom under any kind of threat.
The fact that media were asked to leave but refused cannot justify the arrest. Media exposed themselves to the harm by the forces of the state and chose to do their duty. In the same manner, those who were outside the hotel but were not arrested were similarly performing their duties.
We find it a lame excuse that the arrest had to be made because there was intelligence information that the ranks of legitimate media have been infiltrated. The very simple thing to do was to have asked who they work for and check their respective agencies or companies.
We object to this undisguised martial law practice.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), urged the PNP to stop treating journalists who covered the Magdalo uprising as enemies of the state.
Jose Torres Jr., NUJP chairman, condemned “in the strongest terms” the rounding up of journalists and the confiscation of video footage of the standoff.
“We denounce the overkill that led to the tying of the hands of members of ABS-CBN’s technical team and reporters in what looked like a virtual arrest. The explanation by police officials and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro that the move was made to prevent the escape of Magdalo troops does not wash,” he said.
He said the technical team had superiors who could have been asked to verify their identities.
“While we concede the PNP’s right to conduct a thorough investigation of a crime – and we do not dispute that the takeover of the Peninsula was a crime – the police ought to follow legal procedures. Invitations to questioning should be differentiated from coercion; journalists have the option to accept the invitation and, certainly, should be accorded the basic right to counsel,” he said.
He said while the authorities have the right to demand a halt to coverage that could jeopardize the lives of state security forces, “any move for redress should pass through normal channels, involving management of television stations and not lowly ground staff.”
He said the live footage of the Pen standoff showed that the media did not block authorities from doing their tasks nor did they show any bias for Trillanes and his group. He said the rebels actually complained about media’s alleged bias for government.
“It is regrettable that a day that would have given the government a clear-cut political victory would be marred by knee-jerk reactions of the authorities. This government claims it is protecting democracy. It should realize that media is a prime component of the democracy it purports to serve,” he added.
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