The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) is disappointed by the Office of the Ombudsman’s dismissal of the motion of reconsideration filed by Davao-based journalist Margarita Valle.
In a decision dated June 24, 2021, the Ombudsman junked Valle’s appeal, saying that she failed to provide new evidence or to present proof that grave errors of facts or laws were committed by the Ombudsman to warrant the reversal of the decision.
On October 29, 2020, the Ombudsman dismissed the administrative and criminal charges filed by Valle against 17 military and police officers who arrested and detained her last June 2019. Only two perpetrators were held liable for simple neglect of duty and ordered suspended for three months without pay.
Valle’s arrest and detention is one of the most glaring examples of state forces’ abuse of authority and grave misconduct under this administration. Even when she repeatedly insisted that she is not the person named in the arrest warrant, she was still taken by the authorities and held under police custody for nearly 12 hours. In her own narration of the incident, Valle said she was treated like a criminal.
The Ombudsman’s decision is not only an injustice to Valle who has yet to overcome the trauma caused by the harassment. The decision also sends out the message that state security forces who are found guilty of violating the rights of journalists or ordinary citizens will be dealt with kid gloves.
Still, we reiterate our support to Valle and her quest for justice. We will not stop fighting against impunity for crimes and attacks against Filipino journalists.