Editorial

Murder of journalists doesn’t matter much to the President

Thank God DWIZ’s OIC chief in Dagupan, Pangasinan, Orly Navarro survived the August 26 attempt to assassinate him. Doctors successfully extracted the bullet from his chest.

Navarro is a radio program host who has been exposing drug lords and their operations. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines describes him as “a hard-hitting commentator who hosts the ‘Orly sa IZ,’ a news and commentary program. He had been at the heels of illegal drug pushers, exposing and hitting the proliferation of illegal substance in his village in particular and the city in general. He is also critical of the city government and the police for their inability to stop the [drug] menace.”

The National Press Club, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CFMR), print and broadcast media organizations have all condemned the attempt on Navarro’s life and recalled that the Philippines, per the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, is among the world’s most notorious countries for having the third highest number of journalists killed every year.

CMFR says it has recorded 217 journalists and media workers killed in the Philippines since 1986, 145 of which were killed in the line of duty. Only 14 cases have resulted in the conviction of the gunmen involved. No mastermind has been convicted.

A UCAN report quotes Manila Times Senior Reporter Joel Sy Egco, who is the president of the National Press Club of the Philippines, calling on all law enforcement agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police, to leave no stone unturned in finding out the perpetrators and mastermind behind the attack on Mr Navarro.” Happily the alleged frustrated murderer, a person said to be a drug dealer, was arrested the other day,

Jane Worthington, acting director of the International Federation of Journalists, said in a statement,“This year, four media workers have already been brutally assassinated in the Philippines – Navarro could have been the fifth.”

In the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre, 32 journalists and media workers were killed doing their duty covering the march to the Commission on Election office of the anti-Ampatuan clan candidate and her relatives and supporters to file her certificate of candidacy.

At least 25 journalists have been killed since President Benigno Aquino 3rd took office in 2010, most of them by assassins on motorbikes.

It saddens us to think that it seems the murder of journalists doesn’t matter much to the President.

An indication of this was again seen on August 27, a day after the shooting of Orly Navarro.

The CMFR on Monday September 1 posted a story on its website about President Aquino saying in a Bombo Radyo interview on August 27 that “many of the reported incidents of ‘media killings’ were not related to the victims’ work, according to the police.”

The crimes against these journalists were, the President believes, triggered by personal motives.

The CMFR quotes Mr. Aquino saying: “When we say ‘media killing,’ usually (there are) agents of the state suppressing the search for the truth . . . but many of them, we can say, were not in pursuit of the profession.”

President Aquino elaborated, reports CMFR, that there were various personal motives behind ‘media killings,’ such as love triangles and extortion, but “decent” people in his administration chose not to publicize these.

“Do we want to publicize that the reason (for the killing) was a personal dispute? . . . Is it appropriate in our culture to say that the victim did something bad and the assailant had no other recourse? So I have asked the good Justice Secretary (Leila de Lima) to review (the suggestion that) maybe it is important for us to complete the story so that the people will know that whatever crime that was, it was solved.”

Indeed, some of the journalists were killed by jealous husbands or angry business partners. But President Aquino’s effort to highlight that element in the factual situation that so many more journalists are being killed here than in other countries indicates his childish tendency also seen in other issues of governance.

In this case, it is the tendency to escape responsibility for his lack of zeal in getting the PNP to go in hot pursuit of the killers.