Journalists decry media disguise by spies on Kirams

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Jamalul Kiram III, the 74-year-old Sultan of Sulu. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP
Jamalul Kiram III, the 74-year-old Sultan of Sulu. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP

Joey Natividad
Special Correspondent

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region (BicolToday.com/7-Mar-2013) – Journalists groups aired their protests over the use as media cover by intelligence agents in spying at the Kiram residence, and such acts have placed journalists in farther risks when they are in news covering activities, reports reached BicolToday.com on Thursday, March 7.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) scored on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for letting its agents disguised themselves as members of TV5 television crew who were visiting the Kiram residence for their regular news updates.

The Kiram family have been at the national spotlight and are at the frontline in media interviews at their place in Metro Manila after their kins and supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu have been involved in series of gunfights with Malaysian security forces over the Sultanates’ claim on Sabah, which was long been stalled by government neglect in international affairs.

NUJP informed BicolToday,com that “when they (NBI agents) arrived at the Kiram residence, they told the reporter they wanted to pose as a TV5 crew. Although the reporter flatly told them “no”, and also informed the sultan’s wife, Fatima Kiram, beforehand that NBI agents were coming, they ignored the reporter’s wishes and said they were with her.They even asked the reporter to escort them out of the house so they would not be noticed.”

The government has been closely monitoring the Kirams for their defiant stand on the Sabah claim, and their supporters have figured in bloody shootouts with Malaysian forces. The Sabah crisis has been escalating that might severe friendly relationships between Malaysia and the Philippines.

“The charade pulled off by the NBI agents was not only unethical; it was downright criminal. They not only willfully endangered the reporter but all other journalists who have been covering the Kiram family amid the unfolding crisis in Sabah,” said Rowena C.Paraan, NUJP chair.

So far, the Kirams have been open to the media for interviews since the start of the Sabah standoff last February, and members of the media wish not to compromise their trust and confidence enjoyed with the Sultanate family.

“As if it were not bad enough that our law enforcement agencies cannot, or will not, stop the continued murders of and attacks on journalists, they now directly place journalists’ lives at risk through such despicable tactics,” said Paraan.

NUJP demanded that “Justice Secretary Leila de Lima must issue, with NBI Director Nonnatus Ceasar Rojas, an immediate public apology to the media and a promise not to let such an incident happen again; to immediately relieve, if not fire, the agents and whoever ordered them to undertake the operation: and to file the appropriate administrative and criminal charges against them.”

“We also demand that all other law enforcement and security agencies immediately stop the practice of impersonating journalists in the conduct of their work, NUJP called. “We call on our colleagues not to allow themselves to be used by these agencies, and to immediately expose any attempts by them to use the media in their work.” [BicolToday.com]

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