Armm adopts policy requiring security for journalists, visitors-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
LAMITAN CITY, Basilan -- The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) is adopting a policy that requires journalists and foreign visitors to have security escorts when visiting the region or on a news coverage.
Armm officer-in-charge Governor Mujiv Hataman said the policy will be implemented to ensure the safety of both foreign and Filipino journalists while covering in Armm.
It also aims to prevent a repeat of the incident involving a Jordanian journalist and two Filipino crewmen. The three went missing and were later confirmed hostages by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in the province of Sulu.
Jordanian Baker Abdulah Atyani, 43, Southeast Asia bureau chief of Al Arabiya News Channel, Rolando Letrero, 22, an audioman, and photographer Ramelito Vela, 39, were reported missing after leaving the Sulu State College Hostel last June 12.
Police and military authorities later learned that Atyani’s group went to an Abu Sayyaf camp to conduct interviews for a documentary and the three were no longer allowed to leave.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier said there is no one to blame for the situation but Atyani himself.
“I will repeat, it should not have happened if the guy had not misled the appropriate authorities. That is the issue and he has caused us damage the same but he will undergo a process to explain all of these things,” Aquino said.
Hataman said the provision of security is not intended to limit the movement of journalists but to ensure their safety.
“Whether they like it or not, we will provide them security,” Hataman said, adding the policy also aims to protect the image of the region.
“Armm’s image will always be affected and tarnished if something happens to them while they are in the region,” he added.
Hataman urged journalists and visitors to always coordinate with the Armm local government officials upon arrival for them to be guided accordingly.
Aside from Sulu, other provinces that comprise Armm are Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi.
The policy would be the first to be implemented not only in the autonomous region but in entire Mindanao. (Sunnex)