NUJP launches ‘Sign Against the Sign”

Sun Star Bacolod - - Topstories -

THE Na­tional Union of Jour­nal­ists of the Philip­pines, along with other me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions, launched the ‘Sign Against the Sign’ cam­paign on Fri­day, urg­ing Congress to re­peal the law that in­cludes jour­nal­ists among the pos­si­ble wit­nesses in anti-drug op­er­a­tions.

Jour­nal­ists and in­dus­try lead­ers signed a man­i­festo call­ing for an end to the prac­tice of mak­ing jour­nal­ists wit­nesses to drug-bust op­er­a­tions, which has put a num­ber of them in dan­ger.

NUJP Chair­per­son Nonoy Espina ex­plained that me­dia groups have con­sis­tently op­posed this prac­tice when it was made a re­quire­ment un­der the Com­pre­hen­sive Dan­ger­ous Drugs Act of 2002.

While the law has since been amended by Re­pub­lic Act No. 10640, en­acted in 2014, Espina said me­dia col­leagues es­pe­cially those from the provinces have re­ported that law en­force­ment units con­tinue to re­quire them to be­come wit­nesses, of­ten as a con­di­tion for be­ing al­lowed to cover op­er­a­tions.

Espina noted that as a re­sult of this, some jour­nal­ists have found them­selves at risk of re­tal­i­a­tion from crime syn­di­cates.

“One of our col­leagues from Zam­boanga del Norte has been re­ceiv­ing death threats from an ac­cused drug dealer be­cause she tes­ti­fied as a wit­ness in the op­er­a­tion. She didn’t’ even want her name to be re­vealed be­cause of fear. This has to stop,” Espina said.

He added that an­other jour­nal­ist from the Visayas who reg­u­larly signed on as a wit­ness to drug in­ven­to­ries found him­self in­cluded in a drug watch­list.

Aside from the is­sue of phys­i­cal safety, the prac­tice also ex­poses jour­nal­ists to pros­e­cu­tion for per­jury and other of­fenses in the event of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the con­duct of anti-drug op­er­a­tions.

Espina said that while jour­nal­ists can de­cline to serve as wit­nesses, they risk be­ing iso­lated from their po­lice sources or even nor­mal chan­nels of in­for­ma­tion.

“To en­sure that this prac­tice is ended once and for all, we urge Congress to craft leg­is­la­tion or amend the ex­ist­ing law,” Espina said.

The group plans to di­a­logue with Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice, Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency, and law­mak­ers to dis­cuss the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.