It is no longer enough to condemn the murder of yet another media colleague. It is no longer enough to rail against the government apathy and inaction that has allowed impunity to flourish and continue to embolden those who would silence the independent Philippine media.
It is now time for an accounting. It is now time for President Benigno Aquino III to make good on his promises of justice and good governance or admit that he, like all presidents before him, is unable or unwilling to go beyond lip service.
The National Union of Journalist of the Philippines demands that President Aquino not only ensure justice for the killing of Palawan radio commentator and environmental activist Dr. Gerardo Ortega, the second journalist murdered under his watch, but for all the 141 media murders that preceded this crime since 1986, including the Ampatuan Massacre.
We challenge President Aquino to acknowledge that the State should be accountable, not only for all media murders, but for all extrajudicial killings and human rights violations committed by its agents, or to admit that the State and his administration cannot or will not fulfill its most basic duty, to protect its citizenry.
Once again, we say, if you, Mr. President, truly wish to make good on your pledge of good governance, order all the media killings solved and the masterminds arrested, prosecuted and convicted. Once again, we assert that an honest-to-goodness effort to solve the murders of journalists in this country will reveal that behind most of the cases are powerful political interests that rule through intimidation or use of assassins’ bullets and corruption money.
Far be it for media to demand recognition as a special sector. Nevertheless, we assert that the murder of a journalist is not a simple crime but a direct assault on the people’s right to know and one of the cornerstones of democracy — the free market of ideas.
Mr. Aquino, the ball is in your hands.
Nestor Burgos Jr., NUJP chair
Rowena Paraan, NUJP secretary-general and Media Safety Office coordinator