THE National Press Club (NPC), the country’s largest organization of professional journalists and media workers, on Monday challenged those running for the country’s top positions to disclose their stand, if any, on media killings and the culture of impunity that has plagued the country for the longest time, noting the past and even the present administration’s dismal failure in addressing the same.
“These victims are mostly provincial or local journalists who have criticized local officials past and present for their abuse of power and rights violations,” NPC President Joel Sy Egco said.
“Such intolerance for press freedom – the knee jerk reaction to silence media with a gun- has no place in a democratic society, and most definitely should not be the attitude of those who aspire for the presidency,” Egco, a senior reporter of The Manila Times, added.
In October 2015 when the NPC marked its 63rd anniversary, the group posed a challenge to those gunning for the presidency and vice presidency to discuss what they intend to do to end media killings and the culture of impunity.
“With only a few weeks remaining before the May 9 polls, we reiterate our call for them to say their piece and satisfy our eagerness to hear them speak and be heard for the sake of our murdered brothers and sisters in the profession and others like us who continue to dwell in fear in the face of these unabated killings,” Egco stressed.
At the same time, he scored the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd for not paying serious attention to the problem.
“It is in the interest of justice that we vet who among our future leaders value press freedom equally as human rights, both of which are vital components of a truly free and democratic nation. We should know who among them have journalist blood on their hands and those who have not. We must know how they would be able to avoid committing the same mistakes as the present and previous administrations did in relation to media murders and intimidation,” Egco said.
He claimed the government is never passionate about the matter, paying only “lip service” and “unfulfilled promises” to calls for justice.
Earlier this year, the International Federation of Journalists identified the Philippines as the world’s second most dangerous place for journalists next to Iraq, where at least 309 journalists have been killed in recent years.
For the past 25 years, the organization said 146 journalists were murdered in the Philippines, about 30 of which happened during the time of Aquino.