NPC Prexy calls on foreign journalists to coordinate with PHL officials

THE National Press Club (NPC) today called on its media colleagues, especially members of the foreign press, to observe prudence and coordinate with Philippine officials in covering news events in the country, especially interviews with groups known to be violent and dangerous like the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.

“While all journalists have the desire to ‘out-scoop’ everyone else in getting the news, of what good would it be if it would cause your life or endanger the lives of others. Under the circumstances, it is better to be prudent than ending up as a captive or worse,” said NPC president Benny Antiporda.

Antiporda made the statement as the world’s media community awaits further confirmation on the status of Baker Atyani and his two Filipino crews who all remain missing in Sulu since June 12, after linking up with suspected members of the ASG for an exclusive interview.

Although presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda announced that Atyani’s group are now in the hands of the ASG, they are still considered as still ‘missing’ and not ‘kidnap-for-ransom’ victims especially since there is no demand for ransom payment, police and military officials said.

While it is very clear that Atyani, the regional news bureau chief for Southeast Asia of the Al Arabia news network, would have nothing to blame but himself for their present predicament, Antiporda said the NPC joins other media organizations abroad in expressing concern as to his status and those of his crews.

In addition, Antiporda lamented the incident has again given a negative impression abroad as regards the peace and order situation in the country.

“Incidents like this, even if isolated but involving foreign nationals, always affect our country’s image in a negative way,” Antiporda pointed out.

The NPC president said on situations where a journalist’s physical security might be at risk, it is always best to follow the advise of local officials and security forces like the police and the military.

“Our local officials, the police and the military, are in the best position to assess the possible threats to any visitors, especially foreigners and their offer of security assistance should not be taken lightly or with suspicion.

“Nevertheless, if our foreign colleagues are suspicious about seeking the assistance of the police and the military when covering ‘high-risk’ areas, then they can seek the assistance of the NPC and we would be more than willing to help,” Antiporda said.

He added that foreign and local journalists should fully take into consideration “the lesson that all journalists should have learned” when ABS-CBN broadcast journalist Cess Orena-Drilon also ended up being kidnapped  when she went to Sulu for an interview in 2008.

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