Lawmaker wants journalists spared from testifying over drug cases

CAGAYAN de Oro Second District Representative Rufus Rodriguez is pushing for the amendment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act to spare media personalities from signing documents during anti-illegal drug operations, including participating in court hearings as witnesses.

Rodriguez said he has introduced an amendatory bill scrapping the participation of journalists and reporters in anti-drug operations and court proceedings.

The proposed amendment provides that members of the media "shall be invited to join/cover anti-illegal operations of the government for journalism purposes only."

"They shall not be required or coerced or intimidated to sign the inventory of seized items nor shall they be called as witnesses in any court proceeding in relation to the anti-drug operations they covered," the proposed amendment states.

"The details and facts about the operation should not be used as condition for the reporter to sign the inventory," it added.

Rodriguez said there are enough public officers such as village officials who could attest to the inventory of seized contraband in drug operations and testify in court.

Rodriguez said the present law requires media practitioners who accompany law enforcers in anti-illegal drug operations to sign the inventory of confiscated items.

He said these journalists are then compelled to testify as witnesses in court.

The Kagay-anon lawmaker emphasized that "it is not the job of media personnel to be involved in documenting drug operations and testifying in hearings."

"They are there to cover law enforcement activities, not to participate in documentation and subsequently in hearings," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez added this present situation puts journalists at risk "since it is not a remote possibility that the accused might get back at them for testifying in their cases."

"We should not burden our journalists with that. It's not part of their job," Rodriguez said.

"It was already considered in the hearing last Wednesday by the committee on Dangerous Drugs and will be included in the technical working group hearings to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act," he added.


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