|A death too much|
|Written by Jaime V. Espina, NUJP|
|Tuesday, 02 December 2008 19:00|
On Tuesday, Dec. 2, Leo Luna Mila, 35, of Radyo Natin in San Roque town, Northern Samar, was gunned down by still unidentified killers as he left the radio station, becoming the seventh journalist to be murdered this year and the 62nd since 2001, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power.
The NUJP calls on everyone, journalists and the public we serve, to express our outrage and condemnation over continued assaults on the exercise of press freedom and free expression.
Every murder is one murder too much, and each additional death and every case that remains unsolved is an indictment of government's inutility in fulfilling its supposed mandate to protect its citizens' rights and uphold their rights and liberties.
It does not help at all when government officials such as Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor treat the solution of these cases as a matter of claiming credit instead of a matter of duty, as he did in the case of Gingoog radio commentator Arecio Padrigao, who was murdered Nov. 17.
We appreciate the speedy manner with which Blancaflor's Task Force 211 managed to identify and file charges against the suspects in Padrigao's murder and hope it acts with the same dispatch in the case of Mila.
We likewise hope Blancaflor's aversion to criticism spurs him to solve the other murders of our colleagues. It may behoove him to remember that the record of media killings under this administration is the worst under any sitting president, including the 14-year dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos and the combined death toll under former presidents Aquino, Ramos and Estrada.
We would not begrudge him all the credit then.
But neither should Blancaflor begrudge us the right to criticize the official inaction and apathy, as well as this administration's actual attempts to curtail press freedom, that have nurtured the culture of impunity responsible for this carnage.
We would like to remind him that of the two cases that have resulted in convictions, only the gunmen have been punished while the doubtless powerful and wealthy masterminds remain free.
Until this government shows a true resolve to put an end to this killings – which time and again, we have said, requires an unequivocal order, with threats of sanctions for failure to comply, from the President to government's law enforcement agencies – and to solve the other murders.