In the Philippines, sedition charges against three journalists

New York, February 16, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the government of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to drop sedition charges against critical The Daily Tribune publisher and two columnists.

In its February 14 case against publisher Ninez Cacho-Olivares and columnists Ramon Señeres and Herman Tiu-Laurel, the government said their writing could “lead or stir up the people against lawful authorities,” according to local media reports.

The paper has been heavily critical of the Arroyo government, calling into question its legitimacy, accusing it of illegal activities, and criticizing the military as corrupt and unprofessional.

“Resorting to sedition charges against journalists who are critical of the government smacks of over-reaction and outright intimidation,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “The Arroyo government should drop these charges immediately.”

The government’s battle with the paper goes back until at least February 2006, when it raided the paper’s offices after President Arroyo had placed the country under a state of emergency amid rumors of a military coup. In May, the Supreme Court ruled the February raid unconstitutional.

For the current charges against The Daily Tribune group, bail was set at 12,000 Pesos (U.S. $250) each.