Press Release
November 14, 2006

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada hits harassment of
reporter inside Malacañang Palace

Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada denounced the attempt of policemen on Monday to serve a warrant for the arrest of Business Mirror reporter Mia Gonzalez, one of 43 journalists facing libel charges filed by Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo, right inside Malacañang Palace.

Estrada said the attempt to arrest Gonzalez is probably part of an insidious plan to terrorize and harass media personalities who continue criticize the reported abuses of the Arroyo family.

The Manila policemen went to the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) press office at the New Executive building in Malacañang and tried to arrest Gonzalez. The policemen failed to arrest Gonzalez, who covers Malacañang and MPC vice president for print, because she was on leave.

"This is another clear proof that Atty. Mike Arroyo is abusing the powers and influence of the office of the president to terrorize and harass mediamen who expose anomalies in the Arroyo Administration," Estrada said.

He said the attempt to arrest Gonzalez came after one of the 42 other journalists sued for libel by Mr. Arroyo, Malaya columnist Ellen Tordesillas, received an e-mailed death threat after she criticized President Arroyo.

Estrada, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment, said the latest harassment of journalists through libel suits could be the opportunity for the Senate to review proposed measures to protect journalists.

Estrada said he will again ask Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Information, to start public hearings on the creation of a Magna Carta for Journalists to make legislation to protect the welfare of mediamen.

"I filed the bill to create a Magna Carta for Journalists, which is now pending in the Senate, to help crusading mediamen practice their profession free from harassment by influential people," Estrada pointed out.

Reports said Gonzalez was sued by Mr. Arroyo for the article, "Will GMA now change?" published in 2004 in Newsbreak magazine.

Gonzalez, a literary writer who had received the Don Carlos Palanca Awards for literature, used the pen name "Concepcion Paez" for the story, but admitted her real identity in her counter-affidavit submitted to the court.

Estrada also called on Revilla's panel to probe deeper into the killings of more than 70 journalists in the past years.

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