2 May 2007
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR)
The media advocacy and press freedom group Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has released “Philippine Press Freedom Primer: Quick Answers to Your Questions” in commemoration of May 3, World Press Freedom Day.
The primer is meant to provide those unfamiliar with the state of press freedom in the Philippines a quick guide to and overview of press conditions in the country. It will be launched in Jakarta, Indonesia, during the joint United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Indonesia and Indonesian Press Council program on press freedom on 3 May. The commemoration will have for theme, “Press Freedom, Journalists’ Safety and Impunity”.
SEAPA is a press freedom advocacy group with media advocacy and journalists’ groups from Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines as members. CMFR is a founding member of SEAPA. Its Executive Director, Melinda Quintos de Jesus, is a member of its Board of Directors. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) is the other Philippine representative in SEAPA. The other SEAPA founding members are the Institute for the Study on Free Flow of Information (ISAI) and Thai Journalists’ Association (TJA).
In her preface, CMFR’s de Jesus describes the primer as “designed to serve those making their first step of inquiry into the subject. It should be useful in planning research strategies for academic papers and as a quick reference for those writing articles and reports. For the general public, it is a ‘quick fix,’ a resource that will help contextualize current news about the press, from the violent attacks as well as the cases of libel which have caused journalists to be jailed”.
The primer looks into the Philippine media environment. It contains a short history of the Philippine press and past and present trends, as well as its ownership and market. Threats to press freedom in the country, like the killings of journalists and intervention in the management of news organizations, are also covered.
In its summary of press freedom laws in the Philippines, the primer also brings up several instances in which the right to free expression is being threatened through legal means, among them the rash of libel suits by the Presidents’ spouse against 46 journalists and the recently approved anti-terrorism bill (Human Security Act of 2007).
Self-regulation systems within the Philippine media are also taken up, among them the Philippine Journalist’s Code of Ethics, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas’ radio and television codes, citizen press councils, and media monitoring publications, among them CMFR’s Philippine Journalism Review (PJR) and PJR Reports. (CMFR is reviving PJR as a refereed journal for academics and senior journalists.)
The World Press Freedom Day 2007 commemoration in Jakarta will address the difficulties regarding the safety of media practitioners, examine the impunity with which journalists are being attacked, and come up with means to enhance journalist safety.
Junette Galagala (+63 2) 840 0889