Comelec under fire over media interview rule

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2013 10:08 PM | Updated as of Jan 26 2013 06:08 AM

MANILA - A Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution that requires journalists to secure "prior approval" before candidates can be interviewed by broadcasters has come under fire.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in a press statement Friday, called Resolution No. 9615 absurd.

"The resolution is not only absurd it is downright unconstitutional since it constitutes prior restraint," the NUJP said.

The January 15 resolution states that "To determine whether the appearance or guesting in a program is bona fide, the broadcast stations or entities must show that: (1) prior approval of the Commission was secured."

NUJP secretary-general Rowena Paraan said Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes' later statement that they only meant "prior notice" made things worse.

"This practically precludes impromptu interviews, which are invariably better at drawing out as much of the truth from interviewees than staged or pre-arranged interviews, and could also have dire consequences in emergency situations, such as natural disasters, when officials, who may also happen to be candidates, need to get information out as quickly as possible," Paraan said.

"To be able to comply with this ridiculous edict, broadcast networks and their news staff will need to be fortunetellers who should be able to predict where and when a candidate will be at any future moment," she added.