End killings, media beseech P-Noy
MANILA, Philippines—WHEN WILL the killings finally end?
The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists Inc. (FFFJ), a national network of press-oriented organizations, asked the question of President Aquino yesterday as they expressed alarm over the unabated killing of Filipino journalists.
In an open letter to Aquino, FFFJ and other members of the media appealed an end to the culture of impunity that has led to the murder of journalists in the country.
“Those of us who have championed the cause of slain journalists are alarmed. There are today more assassins and masterminds who have so far escaped punishment than the few who have been tried and convicted,” the letter said.
“For so long as this impunity reigns, all Filipinos, not only journalists and media workers, but ordinary citizens as well will continue to be at risk,” it added.
As the country marks a period of reflection during Holy Week, FFFJ said Mr. Aquino should take time to also contemplate what needs to be done to end the media killings.
FFFJ said many masterminds of the killings were government and police officials.
Mr. Aquino, the group said, should show political will to end the culture of impunity that has put media workers at risk.
According to the group, Mr. Aquino’s rise to the presidency had not stopped the killings that peaked during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Just over a week after Mr. Aquino’s inauguration, broadcaster Miguel Belen of Camarines Sur was ambushed on July 9, 2010, and died nearly a month after. Six months later, Dr. Gerry Ortega, a Palawan-based broadcaster and antimining advocate, was gunned down by hired assassins.
On March 24, 2011, exactly two months after the Ortega killing, Malabon broadcaster Len Flores Sumera was shot dead.
FFFJ also noted the lumbering pace of the murder trial of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao, saying this undermined Mr. Aquino’s assertion that he would end the culture of impunity.
“Fifteen months since the massacre, in which 32 journalists and media workers were killed together with 26 others, the cases against the alleged masterminds and killers have hardly moved,” FFFJ’s letter said.
The group urged the President to take concrete action against the killings and harassment of journalists.
Aside from giving justice to the victims, FFFJ appealed to Mr. Aquino to strengthen the witness protection program.