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NUJP questions Zamboanga prosecutor summoning of media

/ 05:03 PM September 25, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday said journalists should not be compelled to disclose information about their sources from the Moro National Liberation Front, following reports that the Zamboanga City Prosecutor’s Office summoned an Inquirer correspondent and two others.

As the sun goes down over the horizon in Zamboanga City, policemen guard the stretch of RT Lim Boulevard to prevent the entry of MNLF reinforcements from the sea. EDWIN BACASMAS

NUJP said in a statement that Julie Alipala, Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent for Mindanao and RMN-Zamboanga’s Jimmy Villaflores and Teodyver Arquiza were summoned by the city prosecutors “to use whatever information they provided in the government’s building of cases against MNLF members involved in the crisis.”

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“We believe the city prosecutor has no authority to issue a subpoena for materials collected by journalists in the course of their coverage, such materials being considered privileged information,” the group said.

NUJP said the journalists are covered by Republic Act 53, amended by RA 1477, which exempts media practitioners from revealing their sources of news and “information obtained in confidence” unless “the court or a House or committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the security of the State.”

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“We do not see how the materials collected by journalists through interviews with MNLF fighters can be considered national security matters, especially if these had already been part of published or broadcast news reports which, in this case, would only show up the shoddy work of those who seek to build cases against the rebels,” the statement said.

NUJP secretary general Rupert Mangilit said the three journalists refused to give any information, citing the same reasons.

Mangilit said they are worried that the summons may also be “an attempt to intimidate journalists, much so the ones who are critical in their reporting.”

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TAGS: Ceasefire, MNLF, Moro National Liberation Front, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, NUJP, Zamboanga City
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