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Philippines Press club gives Aquino grade of 80% in running after journalists' killers

Going after killers: The National Press Club proposed to Philippines President Benigno Simeon Aquino III the creation of a "super body" to address the issue about media killings.

The National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines has given President Benigno Simeon Aquino III a grade of 80 per cent in running after the killers of journalists. The rating was cited in NPC President Jerry Yap's yearend press report released on Friday.

The NPC said there are yardsticks to determine how safe it is to practice journalism in a certain area such as:

  • how many journalists were killed;
  • how many murderers were brought to justice;
  • how many journalists received death threats;
  • how many were harassed;
  • how many were tortured;
  • how many were charged with libel cases, and
  • how many journalists were sued for other cases in an attempt to silence them.

The NPC said "the difficulty in obtaining data on many of these measures, the most visible measures of the state of the press are gauges of how many journalists were killed and how many of their murderers have been charged, either before the prosecutor’s offices or courts."

The press club cited the four journalists who were killed since Aquino took his oath of office on June 30 this year:

  • Jose Daguio, 75, a radio commentator and community journalist, who was shot dead while having a dinner inside his house in Barangay Tuga, Tabuk, Kalinga on July 3. The police claimed he was killed by known cattle rustlers.
  • Miguel Belen, a field reporter of DWEB FM station in Nabua, Camarines Sur, who was shot at along Zone 3, Barangay San Jose Pagaraon, Nabua at 8:30 p.m. on July 9;
  • Edilberto Cruz, publisher of Salida tabloid in Nueva Ecija, who was shot in the evening while driving a motorcycle along Maharlika Highway in Barangay San Juan Accfa, Cabanatuan City on August 1;
  • Edison Flameniana Sr., a columnist of Mindanao Inquirer, who was shot dead on December 10, 2010 in Tabudok, Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.

The NPC noted that the attack on Flameniana was carried out on International Human Rights Day.

Meanwhile, the NPC noted that during the last month of the term of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, three journalists were killed:

  • Desidario Camangyan, 50, of Sunrise FM radio, who was shot dead on June 14 in Manay, Davao Oriental reportedly over the illegal logging activity that he criticised;
  • Jovelito Agustin, 37, of Aksyon Radyo Laoag, was gunned down on June 15 at a boundary of Laoag and Bacarra, Ilocos Norte reportedly over the criticisms he hurled against corruption;
  • Nestor Bedolido, of Kastigador weekly, was assassinated on June 19 in Digos City allegedly over criticisms against a politician.

However, the NPC said the "worst is the massacre of 58 people that included 33 journalists. This occurred on November 23, 2009 in the town of Ampatuan, province of Maguindanao."

The NPC hailed the 33 victims as "heroes of press freedom." "If not for them, pens must have not resumed making the voice of the people of Maguindanao known," the NPC said.

The NPC proposed to Aquino the creation of a "super body" to address the issue about media killings. "The proposal was presented to (Justice) Secretary Leila De Lima and she was immediately impressed, causing her to endorse the drafting of an executive order for its creation," the NPC said. "The recommendation got the immediate approval of the President that he even announced that he has ordered the drafting of an executive order for this.

However, the NPC said the “bright boys of Malacañang changed the course of the wind. There was no announcement whether it was to be withdrawn but the orders issued to constitute task forces were visible signs that the “super body" proposal of the NPC was already shelved." "Senator Chiz Escudero openly rejected the super body idea, insisting it was not necessary," the NPC added.

Date posted: December 17, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 176