No boycotting Duterte–NUJP
That was quite a mouthful President-elect Rodrigo Duterte unleashed on media last June 2. We do appreciate his reminder: Yes, we journalists are not all lily-white, in fact none of us are; although we would not go so far as to consider our work in the same line as that of publicists’.
It is true—and this we have always recognized—the “vultures” among us are a major dilemma for our profession. And, yes, hard as it is for many people to believe, as an organization, we do take efforts to convince colleagues—members and nonmembers alike—that the side of right is, well, always right. Sadly, we have not been totally successful on this score, but this has not stopped us from trying.
We also agree—and we have pointed this out time and again—corruption could be the reason some journalists were murdered, just as Duterte also correctly pointed out that even doing our job right does not shield us, journalists, from those who seek to suppress the truth.
Having cleared the air on that, we would like to say:
We do and will always take exception to the sweeping generalization that most murdered journalists were killed because they were corrupt. But even if they were, we maintain that nothing, not corruption, and certainly not truth-telling, can ever justify murder. We are sure Duterte agrees that journalists, both the good and the bad, are equally entitled to the protection of the law.
We agree it is not within Duterte’s powers to provide a security detail for each and every one of us, nor did it ever occur to us to ask him to do that. But we do expect—and each and every Filipino deserves this—a government that cares enough to ensure that murder does not go unpunished.
Yes, we demand justice for all 174 journalists murdered between 1986 and now. Justice for them was something past and present administrations failed—or simply did not care—to render. We hope Duterte will cut the apathy so that our fallen colleagues and all other victims of the culture of impunity will finally get justice, regardless of what they were and why they were killed.
As for Duterte’s dare for the media to boycott him, we are very sorry, but we will not, cannot, indulge him. Besides, the suggestion was not made by the Philippine media. Even when we had differences with presidents, past and present, it never occurred to us to abdicate our duty, which is to keep watch of and scrutinize the government and help ensure it does right by the governed.
Serving the people is as much a Filipino journalist’s mandate as it is the president’s.
—RYAN ROSAURO, ALWYN ALBURO, DABET PANELO, CHE DELOS REYES, KIM QUITASOL, JULIE ALIPALA, ANGEL AYALA, NESTOR BURGOS, JO CLEMENTE, VER CUIZON, NONOY ESPINA, MELVIN GASCON, LEN OLEA, RAYMUND VILLANUEVA, FRED VILLAREAL, The National Directorate, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines