Press Release
December 13, 2007

Transcript of ANC interview with Sen. Escudero before the hearing
of the committee on justice and human rights on media arrest

Sen. Escudero: There's no law abridging the freedom of expression or of the press. They (authorities) cannot do anything to curtail the media's right to present information to our people. On the other hand, we can legislate, we can strengthen and we can limit the powers of the police in so far as what we are supposed to do, and what they are not supposed to do in situation such as this.

Are you expecting any of the security forces (to appear in the hearing)?

Sen. Escudero: Sumulat sa amin sina Secretary Gonzalez (DOJ), Secretary Teodoro (DND) at si Secretary Puno na hindi raw sila dadalo sa pagdinig at ang ginagamit nilang dahilan ay ginagampanan pa raw nila yung trabaho nila na hulihin yung mga suspek na wanted pa. Hindi ho trabaho ng Secretary ng DILG, ng DOJ o ng DND na humuli, trabaho ho yan ng mga tao nila. It is now an unacceptable excuse and the committee will act on it accordingly as we go along.

So what does that mean?

Sen. Escudero: We cannot take it sitting down and we should not take it sitting down; either sanctions would have to be imposed or reminders would have to be issued against these people who fail and refuse to heed to our lawful invitation of a committee in order to give clarities to certain issues. Pero para sa akin kawalan ng PNP ito, kawalan ng DILG, kawalan ng DND at kawalan ng DOJ. Kung ayaw nilang ilahad sa publiko yung posisyon nila at kung magugulpi man sila dito sa pagdinig na ito dahil walang sumasagot sa panig nila, it's their loss.

It's very likely that no one's gonna get a free passes right?

Sen. Escudero: Definitely. But I think each one or each side can hold their respective ground whatever their position, principles or beliefs maybe. Kayang ipagtanggol ng media ang kanilang posisyon, kayang ipagtanggol din marahil, kung dumalo lamang ang gobyerno, ang kanilang posisyon.

I don't think the executive privilege was invoked this time...

Sen. Escudero: An excuse has been invoke this time that they're doing supposedly their job of arresting these people but again I don't think Secretary Puno has anything to do with actually looking for and arresting suspects that are still at large. The same is true for Secretary Teodoro and Secretary Gonzalez.

Where do you think this issue would actually come to an end? Let's say for example in the court.

Sen. Escudero: This has been brought before in the plenary itself and has been discussed in several caucus set by the Senate leadership and hopefully would be acted upon soon, hopefully before the year ends.

What you do hope to achieve here is perhaps to gain some kind of understanding between the media and the authorities as to the parameters of their actions.

Sen. Escudero: Not only understanding but basic information as to what the police will do and if the media would be informed and kept abreast of what the police' SOPs are and on the other hand what the media SOPs are. Ang problema, noong mag-order si General Barias na bumaba, ngumingti siya, kumakaway and saying na 'halika na bumaba na kayo.' Was that a lawful order issued by a person in authority? There was some confusion with respect to that and here they are threatening to sue members of media for violating article 151 of the Revised Penal Code. That has to be clarified, when is a lawful order issued and at what stage? Is it a lawful order for someone who actually thinks that he is imperil of being sued for violating Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code?


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