The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines is deeply concerned at the reported abduction of respected broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, her crew, Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama, and their host, peace advocate Octavio Dimampo, in Sulu by what authorities say are members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
Whatever the abductors stand for, whatever their goals are, there is absolutely no justification for seizing journalists whose sole concern is to seek out the truth and present this as accurately as possible.
To them, we say, release Ces, Jimmy, Angelo and Mr. Dinampo. Seizing them cannot in any way serve your ends and can only bring down condemnation on your heads.
We call on authorities to exert all efforts to ensure the safe return of the journalists and their host. We are also urging for sobriety among our colleagues in the media in reporting about the incident so as not to aggravate the situation and endanger Drilon and her companions.
We are only too aware of the risks journalists go through in our work. Too many journalists are sent into dangerous coverage situations without adequate preparations and safety measures.
Many silently bear the scars and traumas of their coverage, with hardly any support from those who profit from their toil. It is time Philippine media owners soberly assess the situation and take steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues oftentimes caught in the line of fire just to get the news out.
To the families of Ces, Jimmy, Angelo, and Mr. Dimampo, we are one with you in praying for their safe return.
Jose Torres Jr., Chairperson
Rowena Paraan, Secretary General