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Concern over Philippines police chief's treatment of journalist

The following is a joint letter signed by 18 IFEX members that was initiated by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), calling for an end to police abuse in the Philippines after a radio journalist was arrested without a warrant while he was on the air talking about police incompetence:

President Benigno Aquino III
Republic of The Philippines

Cc:
Secretary Leila De Lima, Department of Justice
Secretary Manuel Roxas II,
Department of the Interior and Local Government

10 May 2013

Dear President Aquino,

We are outraged by the 3 May arrest of Dipolog City broadcaster Rodolfo Tanquis and his detention at a police station by Police Director Supt. Reynaldo Maclang. How can this be allowed to happen in a democracy?

According to reports, Tanquis was in the middle of a commentary in which he blamed Maclang for the large number of unresolved killings in the city. Although the police are, by any logic, the proper entity accountable for the state of law and order in any community, with two of his men Maclang forcibly entered the booth of dxFL FM 88.9, locked the booth, and over the air, cleared himself of any responsibility. Still not satisfied, Maclang, after slamming his service pistol on the booth panel, forced Tanquis to come with him and his men to a police station because he was filing a libel complaint against him.

No libel complaint had been filed against Tanquis at the time of his arrest and detention. Tanquis was released only in the afternoon of Saturday 4 May when a libel complaint was filed against him and he made bail.

This is a clear violation of the rights of Tanquis both as a broadcaster and as a Filipino citizen protected by Article III, Section 4 of the Philippine Constitution ("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.") It is also a brazen and unconscionable abuse of power in a country whose reputation as a democracy has already been severely damaged by the continuing killing of journalists and the Philippine State's failure to prosecute most of the killers.

To help dispel the impression that the Philippine government is unable or unwilling to address abuses such as Maclang's, we urge you to reprimand and file the necessary charges against Maclang, and suspend him while the charges are pending resolution.

Respectfully yours,

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Aliansi Jurnalis Independen/Alliance of Independent Journalists
Association of Independent Electronic Media
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Centre for Independent Journalism - Malaysia
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
Independent Journalism Center - Moldova
Index on Censorship
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Institute of Mass Information
International Federation of Journalists
Journalists' Trade Union
Pacific Islands News Association
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
Public Association "Journalists"
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
World Press Freedom Committee

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