Fulfill vow on rights, P-Noy told
Last Nov. 2, we observed the first United Nations Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, with sorrow and rage.
That the UN has to declare such a day—just as Ifex in 2011 declared Nov. 23, the date the 2009 Ampatuan massacre happened, the International Day to End Impunity—speaks volumes of how the freedoms of the press and of expression, and those who not only wish, but whose duty it is, to exercise these freedoms have come under increasing attack.
Thus far this year, the International Federation of Journalists has recorded close to 100 media killings worldwide.
Ironically, the assaults have increasingly come not only from parties traditionally seen as hostile to a free press (autocratic and corrupt governments, terrorist organizations, crime groups) but also from those that justify repression as part of their professed intention to protect basic rights and freedoms, particularly governments engaged in the so-called “war on terror.”
These two days—Nov. 2 and Nov. 23—strike a deep chord within the community of independent journalists in the Philippines, who have lost 171 of their members since 1986, as government apathy and even hostility continue to feed the impunity with which assaults on the press are committed.
It has not helped that President Aquino has broken all his promises on justice and good governance and has offered lame excuses for turning his back on his vow to enact the freedom of information law, even stating the wrong number of media victims of the single deadliest attack on the press in history; worse, time and again, he made the media his whipping boy for fulfilling their duty of informing the people of what his administration is doing or not doing for them.
Indeed, under Mr. Aquino’s watch, 33 of our colleagues have lost their lives, one of the worst records of any sitting Philippine president. Yet, instead of ordering an end to the killings, he has again and again offered what amounts to a justification for the murders, hinting without providing any evidence that the victims were killed for reasons not related to their work or for engaging in less than ethical undertakings.
From this day until Nov. 23, and way beyond that day, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, together with other media organizations and freedom of expression advocates, will remind Mr. Aquino of how badly he has failed to fulfill his pledge to protect our rights and freedoms and, because of this failure, his hands have been stained with the blood of our fallen colleagues.
—ROWENA PARAAN, chair,
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines,
4/L FSS Bldg., 89 Scout Castor corner
Scout Tuason Sts. (near T. Morato Ave.),
Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City
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