THE National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) criticized President Benigno Aquino 3rd for downplaying political and media killings and refusing to give priority to solving the attacks.
The two organizations were reacting on Wednesday to a statement of Aquino in Belgium where his attention was called on his Administration’s questionable human rights record.
“The President brushed off such criticism as “blanket statements” but showed his true sentiments when he rolled out a blanket statement of his own that, of all things, apparently justified continued media killings in the Philippines by linking these to a lack of journalistic ethics” the NUJP said in a statement.
“And for the leader of a supposed democracy, who by all rights should take each and every unsolved media killing as an affront to his supposed [straight path], Aquino still cannot get even his numbers right,” it added.
The NUJP quoted Aquino as saying: “For instance, in the media killings, some who used to work in media died. Did they die because they were investigative journalists? Were they exercising their profession in a responsible manner, living up to journalistic ethics? Or did they perish because of other reasons?”
”This only buttresses our contention that Aquino cannot wash himself off the blood of those who have fallen under his watch and of those whose murders he continues to gloss over, for blaming the victims is tantamount to approval of the fate that befell them,” the group said.
The CEGP also scored Aquino for downplaying the gravity of media killings and human rights violations in the country before the international community.
In a forum organized by Egmont Institute in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), he said not all so-called “media killings” are work-related.
“It is very infuriating on the part of the campus press that [Aquino] continues to disregard the unabated and continued violations of press freedom and human rights in the Philippines,” Marc Lino Abila, the group’s national president, said.
To date, there are 25 cases of work-related killings since Aquino assumed office in 2010, according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).
Cases of attempted killings, death threats, Red-baiting, harassment and surveillance were also documented.
“It is obvious that Aquino is not serious in resolving these violations by devaluing the issue of media killings and human rights but plans to worsen it with the revision of Oplan Bayanihan. The government through the Armed Forces [of the Philippines]will continue to violate the rights of the people in the name of quelling the resistance of the people against Aquino’s anti-people policies,” Abila said.