ALAM helps mediamen for TRO vs Customs

ALAM helps mediamen
for TRO vs Customs

            Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM) has helped anew the oppressed media men covering the Bureau of Customs.

ALAM caused the preparation and submission of their motion for reconsideration seeking for the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the implementation of the memorandum circular that regulates media coverage within the offices of the bureau.

            The motion ratiocinated that there was a new development where the bureau, through its PIAD office, issued last February 22 a “media advisory” to implement Customs Memorandum Order No. 37-2011.

            The bureau issued the advisory a few days after it received a resolution from the Supreme Court requiring it to comment on the petition of these media men and at the same time denying their TRO application for lack of urgency.

            The petition for prohibition is docketed as “Napoleon Sanota, et al versus Bureau of Customs,” G.R. No. 199479.

            “There is now an urgency considering that the bureau issued a media advisory implementing the memorandum that operates like a media regulatory body when the Constitution forbids even the Congress to make one,” said Berteni “Toto” Cataluña Causing, president of ALAM that is registering this year as a partylist organization.

            ALAM has been organized to gather all journalists all over the country, particularly the community newspapers reporters, editors and publishers and local radio broadcasters, commentators and field reporters.

            ALAM sums up its battle cry as “Walang Demokrasya Kung Walang Media.”

Causing is at the same time the president of Hukuman ng Mamamayan Movement, Inc. (HMMI), a group that is actively involved in the campaign to educate Filipinos of the merits why the system of Grand Jury and Trial Jury is the best solution to the century-old problems of injustice in the country.

            The motion states:

“This ‘Media Advisory’ is a glaring proof of the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to the rights of the petitioners to exercise press freedom.
“Any form of regulation that hampers or deters the exercise of the right to gather information or facts from public places or elsewhere outside the zone of privacy or the zone of state or national security is as good as restraining the exercise of the right to exercise this right fought for by our forefathers.

“Jurisprudence loves to call the same ‘prior restraint.’ It directly affects the very content or the substance of the freedom of the press.

“The same CMO does not only implement a simple accreditation procedure not amounting to chilling the right enshrined in the constitution. It actually puts regulations restricting the coverage and movements of the media persons covering the bureau. It also actually constitutes the bureau as an ‘adjudicatory body’ whose purpose is to punish what it deems as ‘erring’ media men.  It also amounts to laying down policies of requiring requirements like those required in applying for business permits.”

“In short, the language and the tenor of same CMO show that it actually works to control accesses to the facts and information only found inside the Bureau of Customs offices.

“Ironically, these data are undisputedly matters of public interest.  But this memorandum circular limits or prevents the petitioners from these matters.

“The offices inside the zone of the Bureau of Customs have never been a private trust.  They belong to the public’s trust.  In ratifying the 1987 Constitution from where the Bureau of Customs got its authority to exist, the people gave their implied trust that the persons who would be appointed to run the Bureau would take care of the offices inside it.”
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