The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Baguio – Benguet Chapter has sought the help of UN Special
Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Irene Khan on threats of libel and red tagging. The NUJP, in a position paper said “We have two concerns that add on to the risk we face in our daily newsgathering, libel laws and redtagging. Khan was in Baguio City, January 26 for a dialog with groups, city officials and the media.

The NUJP BB said there are at least three cases of cybelibel involving five journalists and two media newsrooms in our area filed by government officials with one resulting in the conviction NUJP Baguio – Benguet Chapter chairman, Franklin Cimatu. The position paper submitted to Khan said “Libel and cyberlibel charges drain resources of community newspaper and the legal battle takes its psycho-social toll on journalists who face a diminished morale and is plagued by self-censorship, added to the risk of harassment and vilification while red tagging intends to discredit the press and diminish the credibility of our reports.”

The position paper revealed six journalists have been red-tagged and the Commission on Human Rights ruled three of these incidents are state perpetrated and have been proven to violate human rights. Two of them have been
charged with rebellion, both were dismissed by the courts but not after the ordeal of jail time and threat of arrest beset the two journalists. The NUJP took a swipe at the Presidential Task Force for Media Security (PTFoMS)
saying “it was formed to protect journalists but has also been involved in maligning the media.

This, and its tendency to dismiss attacks against journalists as unrelated to their job, speaks volumes about its ineptness in upholding press safety and freedom.” NUJP Baguio-Benguet forwarded recommendations which include; Adoption of an international convention that binds governments to create mechanisms to ensure the safety and independence of journalists and media workers. For Philippine authorities to formulate a mechanism to
resolve pending cases of attacks on journalists and media workers.

Review policies and laws and ensure compliance with international human rights instruments. We call for the
following: Decriminalization of libel, Repeal the Anti-Terrorism Law, and Abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict The government should abolish the Presidential Task Force on Media Security
(PTFOMS) and replace it with a multi-sectoral group composed of media organizations, academic institutions, and

Amianan Balita Ngayon