Cagayan de Oro’s second district Representative Rufus Rodriguez plans to amend the requirement that puts journalists as one of the signatories during anti-drug operations.
Rep. Rodriguez said that the present law requires media practitioners accompanying law enforcers in anti-drug operations to sign the inventory of confiscated items.
“They are also required to testify as witnesses during the hearing of these cases,” said Rufus in his released statement.
The lawmaker also said that documenting drug operations and testifying in hearings is not part of journalists’ job. He also stressed that media persons are only there to cover law enforcement activities.
Rodriguez’s proposed amendment states that media “shall be invited to join/cover anti-drug operations of the government for journalism purposes only” and that “they shall not be required, coerced, or intimidated to sign the inventory of seized items, nor shall they be called as witnesses in any court proceeding in relation to the anti-drug operations they cover.”
The NUJP appreciates Rep. Rufus Rodriguez’s position to the proposed amendment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002 to exclude journalists from the list of the supposed witnesses to anti-drug operations.
We have been lobbying for the removal of the requirement with our on-going campaign SIGN AGAINST THE SIGN since 2018.
NUJP Chairperson Nonoy Espina said that the practice not only puts journalists at risk of physical retaliation, it also exposes them to potential breaches of ethics and can even get them in trouble with the law.
“While the current law makes it optional to make journalists witnesses, many times, threats to exclude them from coverage or from receiving tips have forced them to do so,” said Espina.
“We call on other lawmakers to join this laudable move, which will go a long way to improving the safety of journalists.”