Press Release
January 28, 2008


Senator Mar Roxas said the cases filed today by members of the media against officials of the executive must be met by openness on the part of the government to a dialogue with the press.

"We are glad that this has been brought into the judicial process but this could only resolve the debate over legal principles rather than the operational issues that are the crux of the situation," Roxas, the Liberal Party President, said.

"I urge the proper authorities to engage the media in an earnest discussion on rules of engagement that would adhere both to constitutional standards and national security imperatives. That should not be so difficult to do if both sides have the will and creativity to find common ground," he said.

Roxas said that unless this is resoved, "there will always be questions on the quality of press freedom--and democracy as a whole--in this country."

"The Philippines has one of the highest number of journalists murdered per year. Libel suits against journalists--especially those just meant to harass them--come left and right. We'll remain 'partially free' unless we work to protect press freedom," he said.

Journalists, represented by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and Philippine Press Institute, filed a media class suit at the Makati Regional Trial Court against Interior Sec. Ronaldo Puno, Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez and police officials, for the arbitrary arrests of journalists during the Peninsula standoff last November.

A separate petition was filed by the newsmen this afternoon at the Supreme Court, seeking protection from threats of arrest in light of the Peninsula incident. Early this month, the Justice department released an advisory to media warning them of possible criminal liability in the coverage of future events similar to that in the Peninsula Manila.

The Senator has filed Senate Bill No. 110 to decriminalize libel, noting how mediamen have been prone to such threats of imprisonment as a means of harassment or blackmail.

News Latest News Feed