We, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Baguio-Benguet chapter, condemn the use of the full weight of the office of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) by Undersecretary Joel Egco to peddle half-truths and outright lies to pressure SunStar Baguio to take down a story about him which he claims to have tarnished his reputation.

We also deplore that he identifies with working journalists and badmouths a veteran local media practitioner he accuses of misquoting him. His actions are so unbecoming of a top government official tasked to ensure media safety and uphold the rights and welfare of media workers. The reaction the government undersecretary bemoaningly flaunted in recent interviews on this issue with government media is proof enough for anyone not to trust him in the lead position responsible for media security.

USec Egco, in a radio interview with Radyo ng Bayan anchor Ed Verzola, claimed the story SunStar Baguio published about him pushing for a Magna Carta for journalists was erroneous. (Ref: Sunstar Baguio, “Magna Carta for media pushed,” published on July 20, 2018 by Jonathan Llanes). While on the other hand he has also claimed he is against a Magna Carta for journalists. In the said interview, he said “…luku-luko yung gumawa ng storya, baliktad po yun…bugok yung sumulat, naniwala naman yung iba, gumawa ng statement.”

In the earlier part of the said radio interview, he claimed that he has complained to SunStar Baguio and that the paper has admitted it was their mistake. But in the latter part of the same interview, he said that SunStar Baguio came out with another story that made him more furious because it did not rectify the first story so that he had to register a complaint with SunStar Cebu, the main office.

SunStar Baguio, however, said in a written response that it will not take down the story because it is a factual and a verified report backed by proper documentation.

Besides, there were other journalists from different local outfits in the interview with the Usec in Baguio along with Jonathan Llanes, who attest they had also recorded the same interview where he said that they are formulating a Magna Carta for media workers. He even said that the magna carta for media workers they are formulating now addresses the problems of other similar bills filed earlier like regulation and accreditation. Then he adds “halimbawa, paano natin iaddress yan, ipoprofesionalize natin in the sense na mayroon tayong qualifying at classifying exams, hindi regulation, exam ka, gusto mong magmedia, magexam ka every six months…”

NUJP-Baguio Benguet stands by the truth of this story, and with Baguio-Benguet journalists in pursuit of hard facts and accuracy. It was not a misquote and it could have been something lost in translation or a simple reflection of government line and policy to control what is left of the independence of the Philippines press and the people’s right to information, Press freedom and the Freedom of expression.

Journalists belong nowhere but to the Fourth estate, and they unite to serve the people, serve the nation.

NO to disinformation!

Uphold press freedom!

 

Kathleen Okubo

Chairperson NUJP Baguio-Benguet