Secure, not restrict: NUJP on military barring media to leave Lanao del Sur capitol

Secure, not restrict: NUJP on military barring media to leave Lanao del Sur capitol
June 16, 2017

It has come to my attention that journalists covering the ongoing war in Marawi City were barred from leaving the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol compound as part of measures adopted by the Philippine Army to ensure the safety of everybody in the area.

The tightened security measures were a result of an incident Thursday when Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) reporter Adam Harvey was injured in the neck by a sniper bullet while covering an evacuation center near the provincial capitol premises.

We welcome the reminders issued by government authorities for journalists to always be mindful of their safety while covering the crisis which was wore on for more than three weeks now. A similar reminder was issued by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) early today.

But I am surprised to learn that the military command with direct responsibility over Marawi City has used, among others, the NUJP statement as reason for barring journalists to venture into areas where they think a story is waiting to be told. Such extreme consequence was never contemplated in the statement issued by the NUJP.

Neither should the statement be construed as seeking escorts among government security forces in the course of news gathering in the war zone. The Army can help protect journalists by sharing information about the obtaining security situation in a particular section of the city at a given time. Such information will be crucial in shaping decisions that each journalist will take.

The ongoing siege by Islamic State-inspired militants have grave implications not just for Marawi and Lanao del Sur but for the entire country. It is therefore important that independent eyes be allowed to view its day-to-day unfolding. Every single passing moment lost in terms of opportunity to chronicle the ongoing war deprives the public of firsthand accounts of its shaping dynamics, which is changing each passing day.

I am confident that the journalists who committed to do this difficult task have enough professional preparations and experience to face the challenges, including personal security.

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
Hotline: 09175155991

[STATEMENT] NUJP on safety of journalists covering Marawi City

[STATEMENT] NUJP on safety of journalists covering Marawi City
June 16, 2017

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines enjoins our colleagues now covering the battle in Marawi City to strictly observe safety protocols in light of the reported injury sustained by Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Adam Harvey yesterday.

Harvey was injured on the left side of his neck as he was covering the evacuation center in the Lanao del Sur Capitol yesterday morning. His injury is minor and he is out of danger.

Nonetheless, the incident starkly shows how dangerous the situation is for journalists on the ground. May we remind our colleagues to never abandon media safety procedures, especially near where the fighting is happening.

May we also ask the security forces in Marawi to further ensure the journalists’ safety as their presence in Marawi and the work they do are vital.

Dabet Panelo
Secretary General
NUJP Hotline: 09175155991

NUJP Letter to PNA on Fake News

May 20, 2017


Secretary Martin M. Andanar
Presidential Communications Operations Office

Dir. Virginia ArcillaAgtay
News and Information Bureau
Luis A. Morente
Acting Executive Editor
Lilybeth G. Ison
Acting Managing Editor

Dear Sirs/Mmes:

We are writing about the posting of at least two almost identical news items that were posted on the Philippine News Agency site on May 15 ( and May 20 ( about DILG Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing’s claim on the supposed position of 95 of the 105 countries that participated in the recent Universal Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland.

Please treat this letter as both an inquiry as well as a protest into the use of what we have always considered a legitimate news agency to “legitimize” the blatant manipulation of the truth, a charge that, ironically, has repeatedly been leveled at other media outfits by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, his spokespersons and other government officials, thus fueling anger among administration supporters that has led to the harassment and threatening of journalists.

While we do not question your editorial prerogatives and do understand that you face certain limitations as a government-run news service, we do wonder how Mr. Densing’s comments, which apparently run counter to all other accounts of the positions the participant-countries to the UPR actually registered, could have been reported so uncritically.

Worse, these were reported not once but twice, with slight rewriting in the second version, as witness below, in an apparent (to our mind) attempt at slightly shifting the focus from that of the first article, which was so obviously – we are sorry but there is no other term applicable – fake from the get-go:

95 nations in 3rd UPR convinced no EJKs in PHL
MANILA, May 15 — Ninety-five out of 105 countries that attended the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in
Geneva, Switzerland were convinced that extra judicial killings (EJK) is non-existent in the Philippines.
DILG Assistant Sec. Epimaco Densing, in a press conference on Monday, said the Philippines received
congratulatory messages as they noted that this is the first time they heard that the figures reaching
them were “spoiled and rotten information.”

PHL’s human rights situation commended at UPR
MANILA, May 20 — A total of 95 of the 109 attendees of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) held in
Geneva, Switzerland early this month commended the Philippines for its improved human rights situation.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary Epimaco Densing said majority or
87 percent of the participants praised the Philippines after the team presented the human rights-based
development programs of the government and the measures adopted to fulfill its obligations to the eight
international treaties ratified in the past years.

We do understand the need for PNA and other state-affiliated outfits to project as strongly as possible the government’s side on current issues and controversies. But does this include peddling falsehoods?

That what Densing professes to be the truth is clearly not is evident even with a cursory reading through the Universal Periodic Review’s official Database of Recommendations (

It has not helped that the first PNA story has already been picked up and exploited by fake news sites, which peddle Densing’s canard to counter the international concern over the current human rights situation in the country and to further smear mainstream media outfits that have reported accurately on the REAL position of the countries that attended the UPR.

Our concern over the use of PNA to legitimize fake news also stems from the possible implications this poses on the professional reputations and yes, the safety of our many upright colleagues who work for the venerable news agency and continue, despite the challenges they face, to keep it reputable and worthy of people’s trust.

As a media organization and as citizens of this Republic, we demand and expect an answer from a news agency funded by our taxes and which we, therefore, technically own.

Looking forward to your response, we thank you very much.

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

STATEMENT: NUJP slams harassment of US Chair, collegue by alleged INC Security

February 24, 2016

NUJP slams harassment of US Chair, collegue by alleged INC Security

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines denounces the harassment of our US-based colleagues Steve Angeles, reporter of ABS-CBN, and Nimfa Rueda, Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent and NUJP-US chair, by apparent security men as they tried to cover the dedication of an Iglesia ni Cristo church in Bakersfield, California on February 20.

Angeles, in particular, was also singled out by INC members who vented their anger on him for what they perceived to be his network’s bias in covering the continuing controversy hounding the church. Others also blocked his attempts to shoot footage with placards.

The “men in black” also tailed the two reporters, videotaping them and taking shots of the license plate of Angeles’ car and loudly considering grabbing the ABS-CBN reporter’s camera. All this happened while the two journalists were outside the church compound, therefore in public space.

While the NUJP recognizes and respects the right of INC members to air their grievances against media entities they feel – rightly or wrongly – are biased against them, their freedom to do so does not include harassment or worse, and especially not of individual journalists merely going about their work.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time members of the church have gone beyond the bounds of free speech to threaten and actually physically assault journalists who happen to be working for news outfits they do not agree with. Colleagues were also attacked during the INC shutdown of EDSA last year. This leads us to consider that our call at the time to the leadership of the INC to compel their followers to respect press freedom and the role independent media play in our national life was either ignored or they unable to do so. Either way does not speak well of any religion.

Nevertheless, we once again call on the INC hierarchy to display true leadership and statesmanship and spare everyone not party to your conflicts from being victimized by partisans on either side of the divide.

In the face of this, we urge all our colleagues covering the continuing troubles within the INC to take extra care and immediately report any attempt to influence their work through intimidation or worse but to stand firm against curtailing our rights to pursue our profession and our duties to inform the people. We support any legal action our US colleagues may choose to take against this assault on their persons and profession.


INC ‘Men in Black’ Harassed US-based Inquirer and ABS-CBN Reporters

February 22, 2016

INC ‘Men in Black’ Harassed US-based Inquirer and ABS-CBN Reporters

Several men in dark suits and wearing dark glasses and walkie-talkie earpieces followed and harassed Inquirer and ABS CBN reporters covering an Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) church dedication service here. The men in black suspected to be security staff Nimfa Rueda, Inquirer’s Los Angeles Correspondent, said the men kept staring down at her and ABS CBN reporter Steve Angeles as they waited on a public walkway in front of the INC church compound on Mount Vernon in Bakersfield, California.

INC Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo, who is in the United States for a series of pastoral visits, was leading the dedication service. Angeles said some of them remarked, “biased ABS CBN” and “boycott ABS CBN.” “A group of them followed us as we made our way to my car,” he said. “One of them was videotaping us and he circled my car and took shots of my car’s license plate. I said, ‘Is this really necessary?’”

Rueda, who is chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-US Chapter, said she asked them “Why are you following us?” The three men did not respond, instead, one of them told the others, “why are we following them daw” and continued to stare down at them, she said. Rueda added that when she approached the fence of the compound to get a good view of the attendees as they came out of the church with plackards welcoming Manalo, one of the men said, “Baka masabit ka dyan” referring to the spear-top fence, then another said, “Pag nangyari yan, it’s God’s will.” She also heard one of the men say “Pwede natin i-grab yan,” referring to Angeles’ camera. Angeles and Rueda said some of the men tried to block their cameras with plackards as they took a video of the airplane banner with a message from the INC Defenders. “We (were) just doing our jobs….Trying to tell a fair and balanced story about stuff going on,” Angeles said in his Facebook post. Thanks, all, for your support!