11 January 2008


Government advisory threatens journalists with criminal charges if they "disobey orders" during emergencies

Incident details


(SEAPA/IFEX) - Journalists and media groups in the Philippines are in uproar over an "advisory" issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) warning journalists of "criminal liabilities" should they "disobey lawful orders from government officers and personnel" during "emergencies".

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) quickly denounced the advisory as "dangerous" and "perilously broad and vague".

GMANews.tv quoted NUJP Secretary General Rowena Paraan as she pointed out the DOJ advisory failed to define the terms "emergency", "government officers and personnel", and "lawful orders".

GMANews.tv said the advisory - which was printed in capital letters - was signed by DOJ Secretary Raul Gonzales and addressed to all chief executive officers of media companies and press organizations. It reads: "Please be reminded that your respective companies, networks or organizations may incur criminal liabilities under the law, if anyone of your field reporters, news gatherers, photographers, cameramen and other media practitioners will disobey lawful orders from duly authorized government officers and personnel during emergencies which may lead to collateral damage to properties and civilian casualties in case of authorized police or military operations."

The guidelines are believed to be part of the continued fallout from the Philippine media's coverage of a failed uprising led by former military officer and elected senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch critic of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in November 2007.

The NUJP's Paraan said this is a "direct threat to journalists covering emergencies and other incidents that the public need to know about."



IFEX members working in this country 1

More from Philippines
  • Philippines: Relentless attacks and threats against the media

    Attacks and threats against the Philippine media continue to rise under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte

  • Freedom on the Net 2017: Philippines

    Websites run by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines were disabled by cyberattacks

  • Freedom of the Press 2017: Philippines

    Two people were convicted of murdering journalists in 2016. Nevertheless, the Philippines remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism, and violent attacks against media workers usually go unpunished.

More from Asia & Pacific


  • The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14

    Journalism in South Asia is far from an easy profession, as the 12th annual review of journalism in the region "The Campaign for Justice: Press Freedom in South Asia 2013-14" portrays. But this year's report also tells the story of the courage of South Asia's journalists to defend press freedom and to ensure citizens' right to information and freedom of expression in the face of increasing challenges to the profession and personal safety.

  • THE STORIES WOMEN JOURNALISTS TELL: Women in Media in South Asia

    The report is the first created by the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN) looking specifically at the experience of women journalists in the South Asia sub-region