By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Baguio Benguet Chapter (NUJP-BB) said struggling journalists in the provinces have only few things to remember about the outgoing administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and those are the killings, corruption and patronage politics.
“These glaring transgressions are evident on the continuing killing of journalists ( Desiderio “ Jessie” Camangyan, Jovelito Agustin and Nestor Bedolido), the attempt to quash the murder case against the Ampatuans and the failure to ratify the Freedom of Information bill,” declared the NUJP in a statement read in a candlelighting ceremony spearheaded by Baguio media practitioners at the Baguio Cathedral grounds on June 23, the 7th month of the Ampatuan massacre.
In the rain, candles were lit while the names of the 140 journalists killed since the restoration of democracy were called in remembrance.
In November 23, 2009, the nation was shocked with the pictures of the mass grave with 57 bodies buries by a backhoe in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.
Of the 57, 34 are journalists who went with the convoy of relatives and friends of then aspiring candidate Esmael Mangundadatu to file his certificate of candidacy for the gubernatorial race at the local Commission on Elections in the province. The people were forcibly taken at a checkpoint and murdered in mass and their bodies were dumped in a vacant lot in the area.
The principal suspects in the gruesome crime are the members of the Ampatuan clan particularly Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr and Ampatuan Sr.
The NUJP said the government failed to promote the interests and welfare of the marginalized sectors of the country. The media organization added that the government coddled warlords and political kingpins who contributed mainly to the culture of impunity. “These warlords and kingpins are still in our midst. As we have stated before, these kinds of attacks against journalists are not new in the Cordillera region where political warlords and dynasties exist,and where private armies are utilized at a maximum to prove that they are in command,” stated the NUJP.
According to the NUJP, journalists are not killed not only because they remain unprotected and are open targets by the enemies of democracy but because they dare to expose the ills of the society.
The NUJP added that they are killed because they are able to mold minds and help shape public opinion and they are also killed because their works have become powerful tools to render outstanding criticsms to social issues which the government fails to address.
“The campaign against impunity should be strengthened in the provinces where many of the slain journalists worked. They sacrificed too much, let us not fail them. We shall be their allies in promoting and attaining justice,” the NUJP stated.
According to the list of NUJP, there are already 140 journalists killed from 1986 to date. 104 of these were killed during the nine years of Arroyo’s presidency.
The NUJP said it would be convenient to attribute the latest media killings to a killing frenzy by the enemies of freedom before the unlamented administration steps down.
The media organization then challenged the incoming administration of Benigno Simeon C. Aquino II to end the culture of impunity and prosecute those who are involved in the media killings. The NUJP said incoming president Aquino must walk the talk in his ideals of high-profile crusade against corruption and good governance.
The NUJP added that there will be no good governance without justice. “ And without accountability, the impunity will never end, nor will the killing. And lest it be overlooked, all these media murders are as much a matter of state accountability as the human rights violations committed during the long years of dictatorship or the nine years in power of Arroyo,” stated the NUJP.
The NUJP said the numbers of slain journalists are more than enough and they counted too many under the outgoing president Arroyo.
“Incoming Pres. Aquino…We want to stop counting,” ended the NUJP # nordis.net