By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), along with other media organization, recently launched “Sign Against the Sign,” which urges Congress to repeal the law that includes journalists as possible witnesses to anti-drug operations.
“One of our colleagues from Zamboanga del Norte has been receiving death threats from an accused drug dealer because she testified as [a] witness in [an] operation,” explained NUJP Chairperson Nonoy Espina. “This has to stop.”
He also mentioned another journalist who signed on to serve as a witness and ended up on a drugs watchlist.
“To ensure that this practice is ended once and for all, we urge Congress to craft legislation or amend the existing law,” the NUJP official stressed.
He added, aside from the issue of physical safety, the practice also exposes journalists to prosecution for perjury and other offenses in the event of irregularities amid the conduct of anti-drug operations.
Espina also noted, while journalists can decline to serve as witnesses, they risk being isolated from police sources and other channels of information.
The group is also planning to conduct dialogues with the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and lawmakers to discuss the policy./DGB, WDJ