Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Comelec to tag ‘safer areas’ for media covering ARMM polls

Amid a recent rash of kidnappings in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will draw up a list of “safe areas” for both foreign and local journalists covering the August polls in the region starting Friday.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) the list is the poll body’s way of protecting journalists from becoming victims of kidnappers in the region.

“This is a way of letting the local and foreign observers see how elections are run in the ARMM without exposing them to danger,” said Jimenez at the sidelines of the Fernandina Forum at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City.

During previous ARMM polls, Jimenez said, journalists were free to go anywhere in the region to observe the conduct of elections.

This time around, however, he said, there is a need to secure local and foreign reporters and news crews in the light of recent kidnappings.

Last month, an ABS-CBN new team and a university professor acting as their guide were kidnapped by alleged Abu Sayyaf members in Sulu. They were released after payment of a P5-million ransom.

Currently, four employees of the Basilan Electric Cooperative are being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf who are demanding a P1-million ransom.

“Now, even if there is no major action going on in the ARMM aside from the election, there is a high level of concern to protect the members of the media covering the event,” said Jimenez.

Jimenez said the “safe area” list will be applicable not only to journalists assigned to the area but also high-level officials who will visit the ARMM.(Beverly T. Natividad; INQ.net)

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