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AFP chief: Media should make own rules on conflict coverage

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:47:00 07/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Armed Forces chief General Alexander Yano is leaving it to media organizations to draft security guidelines for journalists covering conflict areas but said troops would be willing to provide “support” when requested.

His statement came a day after the Commission on Elections said it would draw up a list of “safe areas” for both foreign and local journalists covering the August polls in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a way of protecting media workers from being kidnapped.

Yano acknowledged that even if the military sets restrictions on coverage, it would be journalists’ “instinct” to defy these restrictions.

“I think the guidelines would better come from your group [media], rather than us, because it might be misconstrued as infringement into some [of y]our rights,” he told reporters.

Nonetheless, the military chief advised journalists to inform ground commanders about their movements in conflict areas.

“Generally, there are areas in these provinces [where] we do not advise you to go on your own. Okay, so the best is the advice of the ground commanders right there in those island provinces,” he said.

In June, an ABS-CBN news team and their university professor guide were held for nine days by members of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf on Jolo Island, Sulu province.

News anchor Ces Drilon, cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, assistant cameraman Angelo Valderama, and Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo were seized while on their way to interview Abu Sayyaf commander Radullan Sahiron on June 8.

They were released on June 17 after a P5-million ransom was allegedly paid.

“We can just provide the support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as in the case of the recent kidnapping in Sulu,” Yano said.

Sulu is part of the ARMM.

A gubernatorial candidate, incumbent Indanan town Mayor Alvarez Isnaji, and his son Haider, who acted as the chief negotiators with the abductors of the ABS-CBN team, have been charged for masterminding the kidnapping.

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-07-10T07:17:55+00:00UTC07bUTCThu, 10 Jul 2008 07:17:55 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am07

Posted in Uncategorized

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