WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY: Arroyo regime is number one threat to press freedom - Karapatan

On the occassion of World Press Freedom Day, the human rights group Karapatan today accused the Arroyo administration of being the number one threat to the people's right to information, freedom of expression and a free press.

"The sheer number of journalists killed with impunity in this country already speaks volumes about the real state of the Philippine press. Here is a country where journalists have to constantl look behind their backs and where the right to a free press is often exercised at the risk of one's life and limb," said Karapatan spokesperson Ruth Cervantes.

"It is tragic to note that as the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day, journalists in the Philippines have to contend with the grisly deaths of, and the continued denial of justice to, their fallen colleagues. A government that fails to protect journalists from extrajudicial killings and harassment is a threat to press freedom," she stressed.

Furthermore, just like the right to life, the right to information guaranteed under the Philippine Constitution and various international human rights intstruments has been violated several times over the Arroyo government throuh its systematic cover up of anomalies and high level corruption," said Cervantes.

She cited MalacaƱang's "convulated concept" of executive privilege "which is used by the President and her top officials to hide various irregularities and escape accountability for such anomalies as the NBN-ZTE deal, the Venable contract, and the RP-China-Vietnam agreement for a Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking in the Spratly Islands."

"Today, as we commemorate the importance of a free press in the world, we are reminded that the press merely represents the people in the exercise of their right to information, to freedom of thought and expression. In this sense, we human rights defenders unite with members of the press and the people in the struggle against the tyranny of the Arroyo administration," concluded Cervantes.###