PHOTO: NUJP secretary general Len Olea and project manager Paul Soriano pose with IBP president Atty. Burt Estrada and executive director Atty. Randall Tabayoyong after the ceremonial signing of memorandum of understanding between NUJP and IBP. Photo from IBP.

To more effectively respond to media attacks involving the weaponization of the law, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has signed partnership agreements with various lawyers groups.

According to NUJP, the Freedom For the Press: Legal Aid and Defense for Filipino Journalists at Risk of Lawfare, also known as ‘Project Lawfare’, aims to build a legal support system for a strategic and timely response in support of journalists subjected to weaponization of the law, and related threats and attacks.

Lawfare refers to the use of law, legal systems, and institutions to attack, intimidate, or delegitimize a certain individual or organization.

“This project will not only establish an effective response mechanism but will also capacitate responders to facilitate assistance for victims and/or targets of lawfare,” NUJP project manager Paul Soriano said.

On November 8, NUJP signed its latest memorandum of understanding with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the official organization of all Filipino lawyers whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.

Under the agreement, both parties have designated their own Journalist Welfare Contact Person, who will coordinate on legal matters especially when referring to cases of journalists who are facing either trumped-up charges or harassment suits.

The lawyer groups shall also participate in a series of case review sessions to examine the database of lawfare cases documented by NUJP, to come up with a strategic response protocol versus lawfare against journalists.

To date, NUJP has signed partnership agreements with IBP, IDEALS Lawyering for Development, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, and the Mindanao State University – Legal Aid and Human Rights Center.

PHOTO: From left to right: MOU signing with IDEALS, MSU-LAHRC, and NUPL. 

Grievance Desk and Referral System

Under the Project Lawfare, NUJP is set to launch a hotline dedicated to legal consultation and aid.

The union shall also open a desk to accommodate complaints and grievances from the journalists in need of legal assistance. With an internal selection criteria in place, the NUJP could also refer these cases to lawyers through the designated contact persons from the project partners.

A pool of journalists coming from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao shall also be capacitated to serve as quick responders for legal attacks against journalists. — NUJP Secretariat