Journ Classroom

November 29, 2007

Trillanes, Lim aftermath: journalists arrested

Filed under: general,News — Luz Rimban @ 10:32 pm

Not since the darkest days of martial law some 25 years ago have so many media people been arrested in one single swoop and hauled off to prison, treated as though they were ordinary criminals.

The scene at the Manila Peninsula in Makati City after the surrender of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim–ellentordesillas.jpgpolice shoving reporters, photographers and network production staff into buses that would take them to police headquarters in Bicutan–showed the Arroyo government at its most repressive. In full view of television cameras, on primetime live, police and military officials showed neither recognition of nor respect for the ideal of a free press.

Members of the PNP’s Special Action Forces bound the hands of the production staff of ABS-CBN and tried clamping handcuffs on the rest, among them Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya and DJ Yap of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The Inquirer reports that some 50 members of the media were arrested. (The photo at left was taken by Ellen shortly after Lim and Trillanes walked out of the Makati courtroom during a hearing today. The photo appears in Ellen’s blog and is being used here with permission.)

While all this was happening, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro was in the ABS-CBN studios being interviewed by Anchor Ted Failon, the interview serving as annotation to the scene that was unfolding. Teodoro spoke in a calm voice, in contrast to the urgency with which Failon and his co-anchor Korina Sanchez were reporting on the journalists’ arrests. After first disclaiming any involvement in the Peninsula affair which was a police operation, Teodoro nevertheless spoke about the arrests as though rounding up journalists was the most natural thing in the world.

The arrests were made, he said, simply “to determine the identities” of the media people. “Certain Magdalo people will pose as so and so,” Teodoro said, referring to the band of rebel soldiers who are the co-accused and supporters of Trillanes and Lim. He talked about the Magdalo as having evil designs and that the police were merely doing their jobs by rounding up the press to sniff out the impostors.

If military and police suspect Magdalo soldiers of trying to pass themselves off as reporters, that’s because it is military SOP to try to blend with the media. They do it all the time. If journalists can be embedded among soldiers during military operations, so can soldiers embed themselves among journalists. (more…)

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