Malaysia may be violating freedom of Filipino media, says Santiago


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Sunday warned that Malaysia might be violating certain freedoms of Filipino journalists covering the Sabah crisis with its continued refusal to allow them access to persons they want to interview.

“I can say categorically that in banning journalists from covering the (events in) Sabah, Malaysia is incontrovertibly violating the international human rights, particularly the civil and political rights (of the journalists),” the senator told a radio station.

Santiago, a member of the Senate foreign relations committee, was apparently reacting to reports that Filipino media, including the Inquirer and at least two major local networks, were turned away barred from interviewing Filipinos detained by Malaysian authorities over the weekend.

Filipino diplomats who planned to aid consular assistance were also reportedly barred from doing so as they had no permission from the Malaysian government.

Santiago recalled that journalists who covered the Vietnam War in the mid-1960’s were allowed unhampered access during their coverage.

“The Vietnam War (in effect laid the ground that) any journalist can cover a war, even those engaged in it … It was first uncensored war,” the senator said.

“Even during the Iraq War, in the 1990’s, the rules of coverage changed (“nagkambiyo”). Not only do journalists have right in international law to cover actual combat but they also can be embedded in (a country’s) armed forces. And if captured, they are entitled to special treatment and not be treated as prisoners of war but as civilians,” added Santiago, who is awaiting her summons from the International Criminal Court to begin her six-year tenure as a judge.

As it is, the senator said “more and more protection is now given to journalists (covering) actual combat. This practice is repeated and authorities in international law like the United Nations and other tribunals all agree that this is part of the human rights of journalists. Kaya kung binabawal mo sila, that is a violation of their human rights and therefore a violation of international law.”

“We can insist on that because we are on right side of international law there (in Malaysia),” she stressed.

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  • disqusted0fu

    The administration killed the freedom of media as soon as Pnoy took over the presidency in 2010. “Negative news” are discouraged Pnoy said. Otherwise, you will get reprimanded just like what he did with some news anchors. So what are the anchors going to report then, because there are only very few positive news?

    Plus, the Aquino admin is also trying to kill the freedom of netizens as well when Pnoy signed the cybercrime law. He probably does not mind what the Malaysians are doing.

  • basilionisisa

    WALA tayong pakialam sa mga Laws nila (Malaysia), maski sa kanilang journalists ganyan sila… gusto mo bang ma-endanger ang mga journalists natin pag nagpumilit sila, Sen Santiago? Sagutin mo ba sila? Hintayin nyo silang (alleged victims) makarating sa atin bago nyo sila interviewhin. Kahit tayo sa ganung situation, kahit hindi tayo Muslim Law, magiging ganyan din ang ating ‘protection’ sa mga news na lumalabas tungkol sa ating bansa, at hindi rin sila dapat makialam sa atin.

  • RomyLitz

    Now, who was that blogger here that says Sen. Miriam is speaking for Malacanyang? Her attacks on Juan and Pinky Lacson are genuine crusade to fight or expose corruption. She is not trying to divert the issue of Sabah claim by Kiram. Mabuhay ka Miriam .Please continue with your exposé.

  • RomyLitz

    Malaysian leaders are bunch of murderers and thieves. Pnoy’s decision to side with them is the biggest and unforgivable blunder . It seemed or it is clearer now that he only picks on pandak and Atong? He cannot understand Philippine history?

  • Benjamin Ismail

    hehehehe with senator like this, no wonder u have what u have

  • Alicia Mottershed

    You’re in Malaysia – so follow the Malaysian laws for goodness sake!
    How low can a stupid senator be????

    • anermarcelo30

      mrs santiago is right and you are right talking about malaysian law….what was not explain is that since malaysia is a member of commonwealth nation you are required to observe and uphold human rights and that includes freedom of speech…no offense meant but it’s sad to see troubles that caused loss of human lives

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