|NUJP: Number of murdered journalists reaches 98|
|Written by Maria Aleta o. Nieva, abs-cbnNEWS. com|
|Sunday, 14 December 2008 13:03|
Journalists from different media outfits on Thursday offered lighted candles for press freedom and to honor of colleagues felled in the line of duty.
"Sa loob ng ilang taon simula noong 1986, umabot na sa 98 ang ating mga kasamahang pinaslang sa media (Since 1986, a total of 98 journalists have been killed)," said Sonny Fernandez, secretary general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
Fernandez said that this year alone, there were seven journalists who were killed by assassins.
Of the total, there were only four convictions. However, authorities have yet to bag any of the masterminds in all the incidents.
"Nakakalungkot dahil hindi na tayo tumigil sa paggunita ng Human Rights Day sa pagluluksa. Patuloy na pagluluksa na lang ba? Sana magkaroon din tayo ng parangal na hindi naman pagluluksa (It's sad that we keep on observing Human Rights Day by mourning. Are we going to just mourn? I hope we will also have time to celebrate.)" Fernandez said.
The latest incident was last December 2 when Leo Luna Mila of Radyo Natin in San Roque town Northern Samar was gunned down by still unidentified killers.
The NUJP said in an earlier statement that Mila, 35, was murdered as he left the radio station.
The group said Mila became the 62nd journalist killed since President Arroyo came to power in 2001.
Wednesday's event at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City was held as part of the NUJP's commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It was attended by Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, Philippine Daily Inquirer publisher Isagani Yambot, NUJP members, students and supporters.
In his testimonial, Ocampo said most of the cases remain unresolved to this day.
"Nagpapahayag ito ng kawalan ng kakayahan ng ating institutions - institution of the executive, the legislative and the judiciary - na masugpo ang ganitong pananalasa laban sa malayang pamamahayag (This only shows the inutility of our institutions - the executive, legislative and judiciary - to put a stop on the assault against press freedom)," Ocampo said.
"Tama lamang na sa pamamagitan ng NUJP ay pamalagian natin, pararangalan, ang mga kasama nating nabuwag habang ginagampanan ang kanilng tungkulin bilang mamamahayag (It is but right that through the NUJP, we continue to remember our colleagues who were killed in the line of duty)," he said.
For his part, Yambot said the killing of one journalist is already "one death too many".
"Dapat hindi natin payagan ito. Dapat labanan natin ang culture of impunity, itong kultura ng ating administrasyon na pinababayaan na mangyari ito na walang kaparusahang ibinibigay sa mga gumagawa ng kapaslangan laban sa mga peryodista (We should not allow this. We should fight this culture of impunity, the government's lack of will to punish those behind the killing of journalists)," Yambot said.
Yambot hopes that journalists would continue the fight to protect their colleagues.
NUJP Director and Treasurer Rowena Paraan explained that there are several forms of attacks carried out against journalists.
"Maraming hinaharap ang mga mamamahayag. Pwede kang mabaril o i-threaten ka ng sarili mong gubyerno katulad nang nangyari sa Manila Peninsula incident. Pwede kang i-handcuff at dalin sa kampo para daw i-proseso. Pwede din namang takutin ka ng sariling justice secretary ng bansa at sabihing you can be held criminally liable kapag hindi ka sumunod sa utos ng isang government personnel (Journalists are facing a lot. You can be shot or threatened by your own government like the Manila Peninsula incident, where they handcuffed journalists and brought to the military camp. They can also be threatened by the country's own justice secretary who once declared a journalist could be held criminally liable for failing to obey government authorities," Paraan said.
In the case of Marlene Esperat, the assassin came while she was having dinner with her children at home.
"Binaril siya sa harap ng mga anak niya. Pero bago siya binaril, sabi nung assassin magandang gabi po (She was killed in front of her children. Before firing the shot, the assassin said, 'Good evening')," said Paraan.
Paraan appealed to the public to support journalists especially in times of crisis.
"Sana yung mga mamamahayag na nagsisikap bigyan natin ng suporta at kapag panahon ng matinding pagbanat sa media ay lagi tayong magsama-sama kasi tayo ang unang magtutulungang kapag panahon ng krisis (I hope we support all crusading journalists especially in time of intense assaults on media. We should be the first to help and stand for ourselves)."
She explained that press freedom is not only an issue for journalists as it is also the public's concern.