Media groups call for prudence in reporting narco list

By Inquirer.net |March 08,2019 - 12:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Several media groups, in a joint statement issued Thursday,  called on journalists to exercise “utter prudence and fastidious judgment” in reporting stories about the Duterte administration’s list of public officials allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade.

The joint statement was signed by National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Philippine Press Institute (PPI), Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Mindanews, Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD) and Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network.

“Instead of rushing to print or air, we now urge all our colleagues to exercise utter prudence and fastidious judgment in evaluating this ‘story,’” read the statement.

“To be sure, the story offers just a list of names, but not the full, substantive details of why or how those on the list had been tagged or plugged as so-called “narco politicians,” it added.

The groups were reacting to Malacañang’s plan to release a narco list which reportedly contained the names of 82 mostly incumbent local officials, including 64 who are running for reelection in May.

READ: Palace: Narco list to be released next week

The media groups said the Duterte administration “seems to want the news media to publish and broadcast with no thought to the journalistic values of fairness, accuracy, and independence.”

The media must verify the reports before running the story about the hearsays of the President and his Cabinet members, the groups stressed.

“Verify, verify, verify. And do so independently. That is the first thing that the news media can and should do, before running a list that tags and links people to hateful crimes, on the mere say-so of the President and his political lieutenants,” they said.

The list was also an invasion of privacy and a violation to due process, media groups noted.

“Such naming and shaming calls attention to the possible invasion of privacy, as well as denial of due process and presumption of innocence, for those on the list,” read the statement.

The Duterte administration was also asked to file charges against the narco politicians if it has sufficient evidence.

“Rather than seek publicity for its unverified narco list story, the Duterte administration should waste no time to build cases, file charges, prosecute, and send to jail the guilty, if indeed it had proof and evidence on hand,” the media groups stated.

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