News5 slammed for publishing suspects' mugshots and HIV status

By Media Newser Philippines | Tuesday, November 28, 2017

News5 is in hot water for releasing in public the mugshots of suspects arrested in a recent buy-bust operation by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Taguig.

On Monday, November 27, the Kapatid news division posted on its Facebook page the mugshots of the suspects nabbed in the said operation, while also disclosing that one of them tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The said post has since been taken down but not before offending many netizens who felt that it reinforced existing prejudices toward the LGBT community.

"It is an irresponsible use of the power of the media to disclose the HIV status of anyone in a news story, even those arrested for a crime. It is both unethical and illegal. The story is about drug possession and use in a 'sex party'. Not about HIV or homosexuality," wrote Cleve Arguelles, a political scientist at the University of the Philippines Manila, on his Facebook page.

"To include the latter in the story is to reinforce misinformed perceptions about the LGBT or PLHIV communities. With the power of the media, it is so easy to undo all the work of the non-discrimination advocates in both communities," he added.

LGBT rights advocate Mikhail Quijano also slammed TV5's news division, writing in a now-viral Facebook post: "The point of this whole issue isn't that these 11 guys are gay, in an orgy, or allegedly living with HIV. The illegal act was that it was drug related — end of story."

"Putting their identities on full display and creating a media frenzy around their sexual orientation and practices is incomprehensibly stupid and downright malicious," he added.

Also weighing in on this issue is Dinagat Island Representative Kaka Bag-ao. In a statement published on her Facebook page, the lawmaker said: "Nababahala ako sa paraan kung paano ibinalita sa media ang pagkakahuli ng 11 tao sa operation ng Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). Tama naman na sugpuin ang problema ng droga, pero naniniwala ako na walang kinalaman dito ang pagbubunyag ng HIV status ng isa sa mga nasasangkot."

"Huwag nating ipagpatuloy ang pagbibigay ng stigma sa pagkakaroon ng HIV...Napakarami pa ring misconceptions at misinformation ang kumakalat. Binigyan pa ng mga ulat na ito ng pagkakataon ang mga taong kulang sa kaalaman na husgahan kaagad ang mga PLHIV sa social media," she added.

Media Newser Philippines has reached out to News5 for comment. We will update this story if we hear back from them.

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