Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Pooled editorial of writers and journos in the Philippines

Media were among the first targets of Ferdinand Marcos when he declared Martial Law in 1972. The news blackout allowed him free rein to round up political opponents and strip the rest of the nation's citizens of their civil liberties.

Once again, the media were among the first casualties as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared a state of emergency. Proclamation 1017 accused media of having "recklessly magnified" claims of anti-Arroyo forces.

In the early morning of February 25 - the anniversary of the 1986 People Power EDSA uprising - policemen raided the offices of the Daily Tribune and have since been stationed there. PNP Director General Arturo Lomibao recommended state control of the newspaper. He further warned that all of Philippine media face the same fate unless they obey government "standards," with police doing the evaluation of news coverage and commentaries.

Meanwhile, the National Telecommunications Commission warned broadcast media that it would shut down radio and TV stations inciting the people to sedition and/or rebellion.

Proclamation 1017 is thus a continuing threat to the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and democracy, of which press freedom is a cornerstone. As responsible media professionals, we are aware of the crucial role of free media in providing a free people the information they want and need.

We therefore demand that Proclamation 1017 be immediately rescinded.

We demand the immediate halt to assaults on the media and press freedom.

We demand immediate withdrawal of troops from the Daily Tribune and other media offices.

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