NUJP Cagayan de Oro’s Statement on the City Prosecutor’s Dismissal of GMA 7 Northern Mindanao’s complaint against Tuburan Kagawad Roy Obsioma Yañez
We are appalled and we condemn the City Prosecutor’s Office dismissal of the grave threats complaint filed by GMA 7-Northern Mindanao against Barangay Tuburan Councilor Roy Obsioma Yañez.
In a three-page decision—dated 2 April 2012—Julieta Buhat-Piloton, Prosecutor II stated, “…the incident occurred in a public place and in the presence of other person hence ordinary human experience dictates that no one would dare commit a crime such as slapping someone with a burak at the risk of being readily implicated because of the presence of possible witnesses.”
We reiterate that although the incident happened in a public place, the prosecutor should have considered the location where the incident occurred. The village itself is deeply isolated in the uplands of the city.
We are concerned that this will set a precedent, which will embolden local officials of all levels to harass journalists who were doing their job in investigating an issue of public interest—mining.
This decision sends a chilling message to all journalists and media practitioners since we cannot seem even put a village councilor to trial for threatening Nef Abdul Malik Luczon and his crew as evidence by a video footage submitted to the City Prosecutors’ Office.
We deplore the fact that our struggle to put an end to impunity, in all forms has been cut-short even at the Fiscal’s level.
We quote the Joint Message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova on the World Press Freedom Day, “Freedom of expression is one of our most precious rights. It underpins every other freedom and provides a foundation for human dignity. Free, pluralistic and independent media is essential for its exercise. This is a pillar of individual rights, a foundation for healthy societies and a force for social transformation.”
How can we—as a “pillar of individual rights—advance civil liberties and human rights when we, ourselves, can be silenced through threats, intimidation and harassments.
We call on the Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to order a review of GMA 7’s complaint under the office of the Regional State Prosecutor Jaime Umpa.
Cong B. Corrales
NUJP-Cagayan de Oro
(May 4, 2012)