Updates Per Peace Table

Gov’t peace panel urged media to be discerning in their reports

PASIG CITY—A member of the Philippine government peace panel talking peace with the National Democratic Front (NDF) underscored the need for media to be careful in their report in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling over the government's request to grant temporary liberties to key members of the NDF for them to join in the opening of the formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway this month.

“The right of the people to information is beyond question. As such,the State shall respect the right of the media to report and reveal information without fear from subsequent punishment or prior restraint. But that right carries with it the obligation to provide the correct information, especially when information is not even susceptible to multiple interpretations,” said lawyer Angela Librado, a member of the peace panel, who also in-charge of theJoint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees on the side of government.

Librado clarified that the high court did not dismissthe government's request, through its Solicitor General, rather it merely explained that the Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction to decide on the cases.

In its resolution, the Supreme Court said the jurisdiction “belongs not to this Court but in the Regional Trial Courts hearing the various cases which are now in different stages.”

“To grant temporary and conditional liberty to these personalities may have the inadvertent but irremediable effect of preempting the trial courts’ own determinations in the exercise of their original jurisdiction totry the cases before them,” the ruling said.

Likewise, the Supreme Court urged the Regional Trial Courts to immediately act on the government’s petition “in view of the grave importance of peace to the Filipino people.”

“The relevance of the attendance and participation of the other personalities adverted to in the Urgent Manifestation and Motion to the peace process are matters that must be brought before these courts,” it added.

Earlier, President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered concerned agencies to work on the temporary release of key political prisoners of the communist movement to attend the peace talks in Oslo, Norway. The personalities are: Tirso Alcantara, Alex Birondo, Winona Birondo, Maria Concepcion Bocala,Reynante Gamara, Alan Jazmines, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Adelberto Silva, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, party-list Representative Satur Ocampo and NDF panel members Randall B. Echanis and Vicente P. Ladlad.

The Supreme Court allowed the Ocampo, Echanis, and Ladlad, who are all out of bail, to attend the talks.

Librado said there is a need for the media to be “discerning at the least” in reporting the development of this peace process.

“The President, in his SONA (Sate of the Nation Address) and even in his pronouncements, has made clear that the only way to go now is to talk, and a careless interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling would not be at all helpful,” she pointed out. ###