April 16, 2024

The Baguio Correspondents and Broadcasters Club (BCBC) urges the Police Regional Police Regional Office-Cordillera to show the list that contains the name of 300 individuals from the media and government sector tagged as “left-leaning” and challenge the regional command to provide evidence to back its allegations.
We find it alarming that PRO-Cor plans to implement tokhang operations at the offices and residences of those identified as left-leaning to convince them not to support the extremist groups. It invades the privacy and rights of the media and an outright insult and denigration of their person and functions as members of the Fourth Estate.
The measure harps on the bloody “Operation Tokhang” enforced for drug law violators but the comparison is an indication of an ignorance and incompetence in understanding the role of the press, which is to report facts and inform the public.
The act was enabled by the Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) through a resolution allowing the tokhang approach against left-leaning personalities. It was signed by regional executives, including representatives of different government agencies.
The BCBC finds RLECC Resolution 04-2021 an affront to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press. It is an abridgment of the freedom of the press since media had been categorically tagged and included in the sector to be subjected to tokhang.
The resolution has wittingly branded the media as left-leaning or communists without due process.
The resolution is a nightmare to the free press. The constitutional provision is clear: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances. The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized.”
The inclusion of members of the media in the tokhang is a reprehensible assault on the nature of the free press and security if and when law enforcers go knocking on the doors of journalists.
We now pose a challenge to the signatories of the RLECC resolution, whom we considered as partners, to explain the basis of their decision. The BCBC has forged partnerships with government line agencies in the belief that it will foster peace and allow the smooth flow of information. The RLECC move jeopardizes these partnerships.
Despite the threats, we remain true to our commitment to bring information and critical stories to the forefront. We enjoin our fellow journalists to stand firm. This matter is not about the colors of politics. Our stand is anchored in fundamental rights because an attack against the media is an attack to freedom itself. (BAGUIO CORRESPONDENTS AND BROADCASTERS CLUB)