Philippine jounalists' group condemns Maguindanao hostage crisis

20:33, November 23, 2009      

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A national group of journalists Monday condemned the abduction of media men, lawyers and local politicians in Maguindanao, southern Philippines.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement, "should any harm befall our colleagues, we will hold accountable the civil and security officials of Maguindanao, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the national government for their failure to end the culture of violence and warlordism that lays waste not only to those who engage in politics but to innocent victims as well."

The NUJP also called on fellow journalists "to band together and demand no less."

About 20 journalists were accompanying the relatives of Buluan town mayor Esmail Mangudadatu, who were filing a certificate of candidacy for next year's national elections, when they were abducted by a group of armed men.

Esmail, who's running for governor of Maguindanao in next year's elections, claimed his political rival is behind the abduction.

The NUJP said that abducting a person who's about to file a certificate of candidacy is "a brazen challenge to efforts to strengthen our admittedly fragile democracy."

"But to take hostage journalists who were merely going about their job of informing the public worsens the already heinous crime, " the group said, adding that this abduction is an "assault" against the Philippine constitution which recognizes both the freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

The NUJP is urging both the local and national government to resolve the crisis as soon as possible.

Source: Xinhua
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