World Bulletin/News Desk
A body representing Philippine journalists condemned Sunday the “chilling message” sent by the government’s blacklisting of Hong Kong journalists who "heckled" President Benigno Aquino III.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines spoke out following the refusal to allow entry to nine journalists for aggressively questioning Aquino during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali last year.
The government claims the television and radio journalists are a threat to public safety. The Philippine Bureau of Immigration said the ban was recommended by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency because the journalists were disrespectful of the president.
In a statement, the association said the intelligence agency’s “declaration of a journalist as a public safety threat… gives a chilling message to journalists worldwide: If the government’s intelligence agency does not the like the way you ask questions, you may be labeled a public safety threat and blacklisted from the Philippines.”
The association called for clarification of “what particular actions served as basis to declare these journalists a public safety threat, which eventually led to the blacklisting.”
The entry ban stems from questions asked about a 2010 bus siege in Manila in which eight Hong Kong visitors were killed by a former police officer. The journalists had questioned Aquino about whether he had met Hong Kong leaders over the deaths.
The manner of the questioning supposedly annoyed Aquino, and Philippine officials said the reporters had “crossed the line.”
Immigration spokeswoman Elaine Tan said in a statement that showing “disrespect or making offensive utterances to symbols of Philippine authority” was a sufficient basis to ban an individual. She said those subject to a ban could appeal the decision.
The case came to light after a NOW TV cameraman was refused entry to the Philippines on Thursday and told that he and eight other Hong Kong journalists had been blacklisted, the government-funded Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
The station said the journalists were barred from entering the Philippines to cover next year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.
In an interview with Philippine radio station DZRB on Sunday, government Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr called for the Bureau of Immigration to reassess the blacklisting.
The Hong Kong government has said it will raise the matter with Philippine officials.
Last Mod: 23 Kasım 2014, 11:35