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Do not play along with Duterte admin's narcolist —media groups

Journalists and media groups reminded fellow media members  to be cautious in publishing and broadcasting the contents of the government's narcolist which is expected to be released next week.

"We journalists and media organizations express grave concern about the likely breach of professional ethics and adverse legal implications of the publication and broadcast of the Duterte Administration’s list of public officials allegedly involved in the illegal-drugs trade," they said in a statement released Thursday.

"This matter is more than just about a list, and its disclosure, more than just a story that the Duterte Administration seems to want the news media to publish and broadcast with no thought to the journalistic values of fairness, accuracy, and independence," they added.

The statement was signed by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Philippine Press Institute, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Mindanews, Center for Community Journalism and Development, and Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network.

The groups noted that the journalists must never forget to verify as the list may only contain names but not the "substantive details" as to how and why these individuals were tagged to be part of the illegal drug trade.

"Taking their word at face value, reporting their claims uncritically, rushing to print or broadcast just a list that tags people without proof, are not without serious consequences," they said.

"All these could put the life and liberty of persons in serious peril; all these could put the ethics and credibility of the journalism profession in serious doubt... We, journalists and media organizations can, at the very least, refuse to play along when the government and those who are supposed to lead the nation play fast and loose with due process and the rule of law," the groups added.

Further, the the media organizations said the government should turn away from the game of naming and shaming which may possibly lead to "invasion of privacy, as well as denial of due process and presumption of innocence."

They urged the government to instead take appropriate legal actions, as it underscored that only "by due process, by evidence, and by fair trial" in the courts should people be deemed guilty or innocent.

"Rather than seek publicity for its unverified 'narcolist' story, the Duterte Administration should waste no time to build cases, file charges, prosecute, and send to jail the guilty, if indeed it had proof and evidence on hand," the groups said.  —Dona Magsino/ LDF, GMA News