MANILA, Philippines - The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said on Thursday, February 21 that the Philippine government should show "disapproval" over the detention of Al Jazeera journalist Jamela Aisha Alindogan and her two other companions in Sabah.
Alindogan, a Manila-based producer for Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera correspondent for Asia Steve Chao and cameraman Mark Giddens were detained and held for questioning by Malaysian special forces in Sabah on February 20. The 3 were doing a report on the standoff between the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysian authorities.
They were released after being held in custody for 6 hours.
The NUJP said that even if there are "diplomatic and security concerns" because of the standoff, journalists doing legitimate work should not be held and subjected to questioning that long.
The group added that Malaysian journalists should urge authorities to respect the right of journalists to cover issues like the Sabah standoff, which was triggered by the arrival of 400 followers of an heir of a Filipino sultan at the town of Lahad Datu in Sabah on February 14.
Calling themselves the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu, the men said they would not leave Sabah which they claim to be a part of their ancestral territory.
"Whatever the implications the standoff may hold, we firmly believe that these can never be an excuse for any attempt to stifle the delivery of accurate and timely information, especially to the people of the Philippines and Malaysia who have a direct stake in what is going on and, thus, deserve to know," the NUJP said. - with reports from Purple S. Romero/Rappler.com