Journalists from member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have expressed support to the National Press Club (NPC) for its defense of press freedom following the arrest of newsmen in the aftermath of a failed rebellion last week.
The Confederation of ASEAN Journalists (CAJ), the association of national media organizations in the region, said it "fully supports the actions taken by the NPC to defend press freedom" in the wake of mounting protests over the arrest and maltreatment of journalists who covered the Manila Peninsula Hotel siege.
The NPC has filed a complaint with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for alleged violation of human rights by the Philippine National Police whose officers and men arrested, handcuffed, and detained about 50 print and broadcast journalists.
Abdul Razak, permanent secretary of the CAJ board of directors, said "press freedom is universally accepted as citizens' right for free expression over public policies that may affect people's right for justice and freedom of expression."
"Journalists are expected to do their professional duties to report and question public policies on behalf of the people in their country," he said in an email to NPC president Roy Mabasa, who represents the NPC in the CAJ board.
The CAJ board is composed of the heads of national media organizations in Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines.
In filing a complaint with the CHR, the NPC said the PNP not only infringed freedom of expression and the press but also violated the rights of the journalists.
It said the arrest and detention of the journalists were arbitrary, without legal basis and violated a citizen's right against warrantless arrest. It added that the manner by which the arrests were carried out was abusive and inhuman, citing television footages and newspaper photographs that showed journalists--both men and women--with their hands cuffed or tied with plastic cables in full view of the public as they were hauled into a bus.
These video footages of journalists with tied hands shown on national television as they were hauled into a bus "is a shocking image that not only sends fears down the spine of journalists, but clearly violates basic human rights," the 55-year-old organization stressed. …