Inside out

Random musings in and outside the news

(UPDATE) NUJP: CHR findings on Manila Pen arrests ‘wanting’

Posted by Abi Kwok on September 1, 2008

DoJ assures due process

By Abigail Kwok, Tetch Torres
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:57:00 09/01/2008

MANILA, Philippines — A media organization on Monday called “wanting” findings of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that police officials could be held legally liable for the arrest and detention of journalists covering a short-lived military uprising in Makati City last year.

“Instead of recommending the filing of charges against those who violated the journalists’ rights, the CHR merely referred the case to the departments whose personnel were accused of the violations, for internal inquiry,” Jose Torres Jr., chairman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), said.

At the same time, Torres said they did not expect a fair investigation from the justice department, which the CHR has asked to determine what charges should be filed against the police officers who ordered or carried out the arrests of the journalists who covered the takeover of the Manila Peninsula Hotel by mutinous soldiers. .

“How can we expect a fair investigation by the justice department when no less than Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez prejudged the case when he issued an advisory urging media practitioners to obey authorities when it comes to incidents like the Manila Pen standoff?” Torres said.

But Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez gave assurances that due process will be observed once a complaint against the police officers is filed before his department.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) welcomed the CHR findings, which stemmed from a complaint filed by the National Press Club (NPC), saying it would give them the chance to air their side in the proper court.

“We feel that the concerned police officers will be given every chance and opportunity to air their side, present their own evidence, and explain all actions that are being questioned,” PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome said.

Earlier Monday, CHR chair Leila De Lima ruled the brief detention of the journalists at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig was arbitrary and violated the constitutional rights of journalists to report events of public interest.

Torres said the CHR should have made a “stronger recommendation” against authorities but Bartolome said the commission’s investigation was “performed with regularity and within the framework of our legal system.”

Gonzalez said that the CHR can only recommend because “it has no prosecutorial power.”

On the CHR findings, Gonzalez said: “This is the view of the CHR, we cannot stop them from making conclusion.”

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