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Members of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines sign the ceremonial copy of the manifesto on “Sign against the sign” campaign yesterday. Photo by Ron Lopez for NUJP

NUJP launches drive vs having media as witness in anti-drug ops

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has launched yesterday its campaign urging law enforcement units to spare journalist from becoming witnesses as they cover anti-drug operations.

On its petition on change.org called “Sign Against the Sign,” NUJP cited that even with the amendment of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 that no longer requires witnesses to these anti-drug operations not just from media but also from a representative of the Department of Justice,or an elected public official, the group said they have been receiving continuous “ reports that law enforcement units continue requiring them to sign on as witnesses, often as a condition for being allowed to cover operations.”

While the provision was amended by Republic Act No. 10640, enacted in 2014, which made witnessing optional to a representative from the National Prosecution Service and the media, NUJP said, there are reports that they are made to sign even if they did not actually witness the operation or the inventory of seized items. Those who decline can find their sources or the normal channels of information no longer accessible.

“Our opposition to this practice stems from the fact that it unnecessarily places journalists at risk of retaliation from crime syndicates, on the one hand, and also exposes them to prosecution for perjury and other offenses in the event of irregularities in the conduct of anti-drug operations,” said NUJP.

NUJP now calls to the House of Representatives to further amend the law so that no journalist will be forced to become a witness in police drug operations. The group is also open for talks with Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Congress to discuss guidelines, ground rules and other procedural issues concerning coverage of their operations. (davaotoday.com)

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