I AM reprinting, verbatim, Press Secretary Martin Andanar, presidential spokesperson, Ernesto Abella and DOF secretary, Carlos Dominguez, the letter of four Customs-based publishers and editors, as regards the “unconstitutional” decision of Bureau of Customs (BoC) commissioner Nicanor Faeldon, “banning” the entry and distribution of their respective papers at the waterfront, thus:
“The undersigned are all publishers/editors of weekly newspapers covering the Bureau of Customs.
“The reason we write the National Press Club is that our newspapers -- Customs News, Customs Chronicle, Customs Balita and Waterfront -- have been banned, according to the security personnel at Gate 3 of the South Harbor, on orders of Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon.
“However, there is no written order from Commissioner Faeldon. According to the security personnel, the order was given “verbally.”
“No reason has been given for the ban on our newspapers, and therefore it was a very unpleasant surprise to all of us since it is the first time (I agree) this has happened in the decades we have been covering the agency.
“In fact, stories in our respective newspapers have more often than not provided eye openers for the former Customs leadership and aided the bureau in correcting wrongs perpetrated within its walls.
“The BoC seems to favor only the major broadsheet dailies and the major broadcast networks (I also agree here). A list giving the names of publications/media reporters allowed to enter the compound has been given to the personnel manning the gate. Anyone not on the list is not allowed to enter.
“We are concerned about this seemingly tyrannical action on the part of the BoC leadership, considering that the Bureau of Customs is a public office that, in the name of transparency (CCTV notwithstanding) should be accessible to the general public, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s policy.
“Additionally, this act of Commissioner Faeldon is unconstitutional. The Philippine Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press and freedom of expression, both of which the Commissioner seems to have violated.
“In the second place, oftentimes it is from our weeklies that the broadsheets pick up stories that their reporters don’t get to pick up because of our being, so to speak, “on the inside.” We don’t depend solely on press releases, but on enterprise and insiders we have developed as news sources in our long years of coverage.
“Sir, we come to you because the NPC is our last recourse to justice under our sovereign laws which guarantee the freedoms of the press and of expression.
“We therefore, respectfully, as members of the NPC, request support from the NPC so that our weekly newspapers may again be allowed free access into the BoC compound to distribute our readers among Customs officials and personnel, Customs brokers and other visitors to the agency.
“Thanking the National Press Club in advance for its kind attention, consideration and action, we remain,
“(Signatories): Mitos Garcia, editor in chief, Customs News (formerly NOW); Nap Sanota, publisher, Customs Balita; Mae Geduriagao, publisher, Waterfront News; and, Arnold Atadero, editor in chief, Customs Chronicle.
By way of clarification, dear readers, only Mitos Garcia and Arnold Atadero are in the NPC rosters as “lifetime” members.
And yes, Comm. Nick might want to explain his side on this issue. Welcome po kayo, Mr. Commissioner. Abangan!