NUJP calls for calm: Spare journos from threats, harassment
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has called for calm amid reports of journalists being threatened and harassed by supporters of certain candidates amid the “emotional intensity” of the upcoming national elections.
In a statement, the NUJP expressed alarm over “frenzies of hatred among individuals who do not share the same political views, and against journalists whose reports and stories some quarters dislike because these cast a light on some aspects of the lives of their choices in the ballot.”
NUJP said it noted a “pattern of harassments” perpetrated by supporters of poll front-runner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in its monitoring, listing the following cases:
∙ Vera Files editor Ellen Tordesillas was bullied in social media for her effort to verify the existence of the assailed BPI bank account of Mayor Duterte;
∙ Alleging biased reporting, supporters harassed numerous times ABS-CBN reporter Raffy Santos while following Duterte in the campaign trail;
∙ Jacque Manabat was cursed by a supporter after a man identified her as an ABS-CBN reporter;
∙ A camera crew of ABS-CBN reporter Doris Bigornia was thrown punches during a coverage;
∙ On Friday morning, May 6, a wreath was laid outside the ABS-CBN station in Davao City bearing the words: “RIP ABS-CBN”;
∙ There have been calls in social media for an “occupy ABS-CBN” in Davao and Cagayan de Oro Cities; and
∙ There have been numerous posts in social media inciting hate and anger, especially against ABS-CBN reporters.
The group urged Duterte’s camp and those of other candidates to issue a renewed call for calm, “which may be needed at this point given the already heated atmosphere” three days before the May 9 vote.
“We hope that such call for calm, when issued, will help ease the social tension that our colleagues, especially those from ABS-CBN, will be facing and dealing with in the course of covering the conduct of the general elections, and save them from possible physical harm,” NUJP said.
“It is important that journalists are not hindered by threats in carrying out the work that they do because our people deserve quality information at this crucial period of our country’s history so that they are able to decide better in the ballot,” it added.
NUJP noted that harassment against ABS-CBN reporters and crew “became bolder” after it aired a paid negative political advertisement against the trash-talking Davao mayor, but added Duterte’s supporters must understand that “the ad was aired based on a commercial consideration and has nothing to do with the journalistic mission of ABS-CBN.”
NUJP said a declaration of commitment from presidential candidates not to cheat on May 9 may also help ease tensions, amid “an alleged plan to rig the results of the upcoming polls and possibly snatch from Duterte his supposedly impending victory.”
“We express concern over the safety and security of our colleagues in the provinces, especially those in areas dubbed as election hotspots, who will be covering the poll conduct. We understand that they are under extremely dangerous situations especially in their effort to uncover the poll manipulations which to this day has refused to leave our electoral system despite the adoption of automated vote counting,” NUJP said.
“We urge our colleagues to adhere to the tenets of safety and security in going about our work of chronicling the 2016 political exercise,” it added. RC
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