The mayor of Iloilo City declared newspapers running “malicious” stories against the city government and the upcoming international summit on rivers would be barred from the summit venue, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported yesterday (May 28).
In a telephone interview with Inquirer, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the government has ”no reason to allow these publications” to attend the International River Summit organized by the city government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources from May 30 to June 1.
Mabilog however insisted the ban on newspapers would not violate press freedom. He said the publications would be “confiscated” because he believes “these are obviously meant to discredit the city and the summit.
The summit will be held at the Eon Centennial Convention Center in Jaro, Iloilo.
Earlier, Mabilog has filed libel cases against journalists including a P115-million suit against a local paper, The News Today, on Dec. 21, 2011.
The mayor filed the criminal libel charges, claiming the paper falsely implicated him as being involved in the unexplained loss of the P2 million donated by US firm United Parcel Services to Haligi Foundation. The donation is supposed to be channeled to a program to enhance the competence of English language teaching in the city. His younger brother Jeffrey is chairman of the said foundation.
Also, Mabilog’s spokespersons have reportedly lambasted Panay News for allegedly publishing biased reports.
To be attended by public and private sector representatives from the Philippines and six other countries, the three-day summit will tackle ecotourism and water quality management, among other issues. President Benigno Aquino III is expected to be its main guest on June 1.
Rowena C. Paraan
Executive Coordinator, NUJP-IFJ Media Safety Office
cp. no. 09199328746