What do the Alabang, Paranaque and Quezon City incidents, the Kuratong Baleleng rubout, the suspicious slays of crusading journalists and the murders of nearly a thousand activists have in common?

They are all arguably extrajudicial or extralegal killings — deliberate murders of individuals by elements or agents of the state, with approval or sanction by superiors, without due process or outside of the law, and most of them are politically-motivated

I’ve joined more than a hundred journalists in signing a “unified statement” against bills seeking to impose a “right to reply” to the detriment of our press freedom and our free expression.

The proponents are hiding behind notions of “balance” and “fairness” to bamboozle the press into accepting a legislated form of terrorism. What is so detestable in the proposals is that Congress is imposing on publishers and journalists, and this would have a immediate and long-term impact to journalism practice, the media business and the politicians’ ceaseless drive for publicity. This would also have terrible effects on investigative reports and exposes, as journalists and the media might find a “right of reply” law a clear disincentive.

Bloggers, who arguably lead new media publishers, must also read House Bill 3306 and Senate Bill 2150. We must be able to examine all the possible repercussions of the law and whether we must agree with legislated codes of behavior that will government old, traditional media. As publishers, we ourselves cannot allow ourselves to be dictated by Congress on what to publish in our blogs and websites. 

The two statements below would show anyone the many terrible effects of the right to reply bills, once they are enacted into law.  It is the first statement, initiated by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and is being circulated as a petition, which I signed both as a journalist and blogger:

Two journalism organizations issued this joint statementa after a senator announced that she is inviting a journalist to answer questions on an issue he has tackled in his reports:

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) have learned that the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs headed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has summoned Newsbreak senior writer Aries Rufo to testify in the hearings on the World Bank ban on construction firms it accuses of corruption.

While various state governments, led by the ones that championed and proselytized about laissez faire capitalism just before the terrible economic events last year, are so busy crafting stimulus packages and bailouts, many people in their respective countries worry that their leaders are salvaging only the big businesses and doing nothing about poor and the middle class.

Painting by Antipas Delotavo

Nestor Burgos Jr., the Inquirer’s correspondent in Iloilo,  is now the new chairperson of the  National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

Burgos replaced erstwhile chairperson Jose Torres Jr. who was removed as officer and member of the NUJP over violations of the NUJP By-Laws and the The Journalist’s Code of Ethics.

Below is the NUJP’s official statement on the issue which I got through email:

Statement on the election of a new set of officers

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) elected a new set of officers last November 11, 2008 after its former chairman, Mr. Jose Torres Jr. was removed from office for violations of the NUJP’s By-Laws and The Journalist’s Code of Ethics .

Mr. Torres was found to have personally solicited money from a source for his personal use. The decision was reached after hearing the allegations against Mr. Torres and after he presented his explanation and defense for his action.

Updates (as of January 16, 2009):

  • The Department of Education regional office has stopped the suspension of the four students.
  • As of Friday (Jan. 16), the principal has sent feelers to the parent of one of the four students that the charges will be dropped provided the student apologizes and would promise never to blog again about the issue.
  • The students’ blogs, which are the supposed subject of the suspension, have not been publicly published online. They are for private viewing. The link in the entry below has been erroneously attributed to them.
  • The students will be going to school on Monday (Jan. 19)
  • The students and their parents will be speaking in a press conference on Tuesday (Jan. 20).

An irate principal suspended four students of the Quezon City Science High School for 10 days over a blog that criticized her new policies in a move that is angering students, alumni and advocates of free speech.

If the students or parents don’t file an appeal, the ten-day suspension starts Monday.

The students were meted the 10-day suspension due to personal blogs critical of the QCSHS principal Dr. Zenaida Panti Sadsad. (N.B. This entry erroneously referred to this link but one of the four students has denied any role in it and said that this blog is not the subject of the suspension meted by Dr. Sadsad.)

The “dream match” between Oscar de la Hoya and Manny Pacquiao unravels today at the MGM Grand Garden Arena — and we’re all looking for commentary, predictions and live coverage!

If you’re looking for a roundup of some compelling articles and predictions as well as a tip on how to get live coverage, this is a good place to start.

Last Saturday, the online newsmagazine Pinoy Weekly and several other groups convened the Pinoy Citizen Journalism Seminar at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

Here is the presentation I shared with the participants:

Inquirer.net has published a news story as well as a video report (embedded below) regarding the joint TXTPower-Telco Entrepreneurs Association press conference held this morning in Quezon City.

Here is the first part of the story filed by Inquirer.net reporter Thea Alberto: