Media Publicity on Names in PDEA Narco List: Unfair and Harmful
JEERS TO several media organizations for making public the names of barangay officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade as presented by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Monday, April 30. Such public exposure makes them vulnerable to all kinds of pressure, and worse, actual attacks.
TV Patrol aired a report which showed a table of names of local officials PDEA identified. It also included their position and respective barangays. Images of the list were also made available in their website news.ABS-CBN.com (“‘Narco List’ na nagsasangkot sa ilang barangay officials sa illegal na droga, isinapubliko na ng PDEA”).
Meanwhile, The Philippine Star and News5 posted images of the list on their Facebook pages. The image is also available in a news report on the website news.TV5.com.
During the press briefing, PDEA said that the list was validated by law enforcement agencies on the ground. It had 207 names, 90 of which are barangay captains while 117 are kagawads or councilors. PDEA said it will be filing cases against the officials.
In contrast, the report of GMA-7’s 24 Oras made a conscious effort to blur the document held by PDEA officials (“Listahan ng mahigit 200 barangay officials na sangkot umano sa droga, inilabas ng PDEA”). Other primetime newscasts (CNN Philippines’ News Night, TV5’s Aksyon) were also careful not to air details about the names on the list.
CMFR has repeatedly called out the practice of media to follow the lead of law enforcement agencies which identify suspects even before a case is filed. Presumption of innocence is fundamental and should be strictly observed. And media should be aware that publicity can sometimes cause needless harm.