Freest press in Southeast Asia?

October 23, 2007

rsf.jpegRSF’s 2007 press freedom index (rankings for Southeast Asia):

Cambodia tops the list (ranked 85 in the world), followed by Timor-Leste (94), Indonesia (100), Malaysia (124), Philippines (128), Thailand (135), Singapore (141), Laos (161), Vietnam (162), Burma (164). Find out why.

Brunei is not ranked due to lack of data.


Philippine anti-terror law threatens civil liberties

July 17, 2007

The Human Security Act, a new law in the Philippines that allows arbitrary use of state machinery to fight terror, seriously undermines the country’s constitutional protection for civil liberties, argues Florin T. Hilbayin in a commentary published on the on 15 July 2007.

Hilbay, a law professor at the University of the Philippines, outlines the dangerous implications of the law that criminalises the sowing and creation of “widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to the unlawful demand”.

Among others, in allowing punishment for “conspiracy to commit terrorism”, the law can be easily abused to curb dissenting speech. As well, a new tool – the warrant of surveillance – which allows the authorities to spy on terror suspects based on their mere hunch, is a clear infringement of privacy.

Read Hilbay’s objections in full here.

Vietnam expels BBC reporter

March 8, 2007

BBC correspondent Bill Hayton is being forced to leave Vietnam where he’s been reporting from since last May. The authoritarian government has refused to renew his press visa, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Hayton had written about the repression on dissidents and refused to comply with the rule requiring foreign journalists to ask for permission before interviewing a local citizen. More here.

Governor sues editors, writer in Philippines for “libel”; editor arrested

March 8, 2007

Philippine police arrested an online newsmagazine editor and attempted to arrest her four colleagues on 7 March 2007, over a libel case, reports GMANews.TV.

Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Singson is suing “Newsbreak” editor-in-chief Maritess Danguilan-Vitug, editor Gemma Bagayaua former managing director Maan Hontiveros, business editor Lala Rimando, and staffwriter Aries Rufo for P100 million (approx. US$2.064 million). To find out more, read on.

Philippine president’s husband sues seven more media members for libel

February 22, 2007

(*In a correction published on 26 February 2007, it was pointed out that the number of journalists sued by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo for libel now totals 46, as publisher Isagani Yambot, editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc and the other four editors are already being sued by Arroyo over a series of columns by Ramon Tulfo in the “Daily Inquirer” in 2006.)

alerts-button.jpgFifty-two* journalists are now facing libel charges from Jose Miguel Arroyo, husband of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, reports the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, a SEAPA founding member based in Manila.

On 20 February 2007, Arroyo sued seven staff members of the “Philippine Daily Inquirer”, including the publisher and several editors, and demanded P11 million (approx. US$220,000) in damages, adding the seven to 45 others he has sued.

Libel is a criminal offence in the Philippines.

The libel suit stemmed from a 2 March 2006 article written by Fe Zamora, “Mike A didn’t go to Marawi? Tell that to the Marines.” The article reported the livid reaction of Marine soldiers in Campo Ranao, Marawi city, Mindanao, to denials by Arroyo’s lawyer that the presidential spouse was there to buy votes and bribe election officials during the 2004 presidential elections. Read the rest of this entry »

Editor shot to death in the Philippines

February 19, 2007

The “Philippine Daily Inquirer” reports of yet another media death – the 50th since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001.

Hernani Pastolero, 64, editor of the “Lightning Courier” weekly in Cotabato City, Mindanao, was shot dead today by a lone gunman outside his home in the town of Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines says this is the worst media death toll under any administration, including the 14-year Marcos dictatorship.

International media organizations rank the Philippines the second most dangerous place for journalists next to war-torn Iraq.

The culture of impunity in the country continues even as the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Philip Alston, is there in response to the government’s request to investigate the unabated murders of activists and journalists. Read more.

Philippines’ “Daily Tribune” columnists charged with “incitement to sedition”

February 15, 2007

alerts-button.jpgThe publisher and two columnists of “The Daily Tribune” newspaper in the Philippines have been charged with incitement to sedition over articles critical of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

On 14 February 2007, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged publisher Ninez Cacho-Olivares and columnists Ramon Señeres and Herman Tiu-Laurel under Article 142 of the Revised Penal Code at the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court.

DOJ Senior State Prosecutor Philip Kimpo alleged that the articles tend to “lead or stir up the people against the lawful authorities, namely, the president of the Philippines, and disturb the peace of the community”, reports local broadcaster GMANews.TV. Read the rest of this entry »