MANILA, Philippines – Philippine journalists are under attack. 152 journalists killed since 1986, the so-called re-establishment of democracy. Ten journalists killed under President Benigno Aquino III’ watch, five for the span of five months this year alone. And the culture of impunity continues.
But the families of killed journalists in the Philippines will not take the issue sitting down. Lately, they founded an organization for the families of killed journalists which they called the Samahan ng mga Pamilya ng Pinaslang na Mamamahayag (SPPM or Association of the Families of the Killed Journalists).
They urged Pres. Aquino to sincerely work to stop the killing of journalists and that justice be rendered to the victims of these media killings. The organization was founded at a time when the United Nations Human Rights Council, in its Universal Periodic Review, scrutinizes the human rights record of the Philippine government.
Elvie Sanchez, whose husband Romy was killed in this city in 2005, said that their organization will move for the achievement of justice for the killed journalists.
From 1986, only 10 of the cases of killed journalists are resolved or still undergoing court proceedings. There were no arrests made to the alleged masterminds of these brutal killings.
As most of the cases were in turtle pace, SPPM urged Aquino to order the review of the investigation and prosecution of media killing cases, said Sanchez.
“We also urge the President to work towards building an investigation and prosecution system that will protect the interest of the victims,” the SPPM added in their call which will be submitted to Pres. Aquino.
Mary Grace Morales, whose husband was among the journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre and SPPM vice-chairperson for Mindanao, shared that their newly-founded organization is very important to the survivors of the killed journalists.
“We will closely monitor the cases of the killed journalists,” added Morales as she shared that even the cases filed against the Ampatuans in the Magunidanao massacre are delayed due to legal tactics and maneuvering by the defendants’ lawyers.
“Itigil na ang pagpatay sa mga mamamahayag…ang pagpatay sa mga media workers ay pagkitil sa malayang pamamahayag (The killings should be stopped…the killing of media workers are an attack against press freedom)”, added Morales whose killed husband was a correspondent of News Focus, a newspaper of general circulation in General Santos City.
As most of the killed journalists were the breadwinners of their families, the SPPM also urged the government to provide livelihood assistance to their families.
They also urged Aquino to avoid statements and actions that infringe on press freedom but instead build an environment where diversity of views are encouraged and those with contrary opinions should not be killed. They also urged Congress to pass the bill on Freedom of Information Act.
The families of the killed journalists were in Baguio City for the Sarangola Summer Camp, a yearly activity organized by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) which aims to help the children and their parents cope with their situation. NUJP also has education scholarship programs for the children of these killed journalists. #