Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vowed to protect journalists from work-related violence and to prioritize the resolution of cases of media killings in the country.
The Binay-led United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) also expressed support to the National Press Club’s (NPC) call for candidates seeking national posts to disclose their stand on media killings.
“Violence against the media has no place in a Binay presidency. Press freedom must be respected and prioritized by the government and only a decisive leadership can end this culture of impunity in our country,” Binay said in a statement issued on Thursday.
Binay said that his running mate, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, whom he has earlier said will be his administration’s anti-crime czar, will ensure that members of the media will not have to fear for their lives in the line of duty.
“Matagal nating ipinaglaban na muling mabawi ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag. Maraming nagbuwis ng buhay sa hanay ng mga mamamahayag upang tayo at ang mga susunod pang henerasyon ay makinabang. Hindi natin papayagan na mayroong mga indibidwal o grupo na babaluktutin ang katotohanan o kikitilin ang boses ng taumbayan. Naniniwala ako na ang media ang isa sa mga haligi ng demokrasya [We fought for so long to take back press freedom. Many journalists laid down their lives for our benefit and that of generations to come. We will not allow any individual or group to twist the truth or kill the voice of the people],” Binay said.
UNA spokesma Mon Ilagan, a former broadcast journalist, said Binay “is serious in addressing the call of the media to end intimidation and killings.”
“We want to assure the NPC and members of media that a President Binay puts a high premium on freedom of the press. He has witnessed how journalists were brutally tortured, harassed and killed during martial law. This will never be the case in a Binay Administration. As President, he will encourage freedom of expression because he believes that an active and progressive media is vital in a democracy,” Ilagan said.
“We in UNA are one with the National Press Club in condemning media-related violence, and we likewise cry for justice for victims of political violence who were unjustly threatened, harassed, intimidated and killed in this senseless act of political hatred and greed,” he added.
Duterte also on Thursday promised to protect journalists.
“In a democracy, the role of media is very important. In the absence of a credible opposition party, you can rely on the media,” he said.
Duterte said it is the media that exposes the wrongdoings of the government but it is also because of this duty that journalists get killed.
To ensure the speedy resolution of media killings, Duterte will put up special courts to handle cases of slain journalists, the mayor’s spokesman, Peter Laviña, said in a statement.
“He [Duterte] will also offer rewards and incentives for the immediate arrest, prosecution, and conviction of the killers,” he said.
Laviña said Duterte will give police investigators and prosecutors quick and limited time to resolve these cases.
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), 170 journalists have been killed in the country since 1986.