While there is no evidence of a nationally sanctioned campaign to silence journalists, unlike activists and other dissenters, the ranks of newsmen continue to be decimated with impunity owing to official inaction toward media murders, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said.
The union cited Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) report on the “Tagum Death Squad” allegedly set up by former city mayor Rey Uy, and decried that no mastermind in any of the 163 media killings since 1986 and the thousands of other extrajudicial executions has ever been arrested, prosecuted and convicted.
“The HRW’s report clearly pins the murder of Tagum journalist Rogelio “Tata” Butalid of Radyo Natin, who was gunned down just outside his station last December 11, on members of the former mayor’s death squad,” the NUJP pointed out.
The report quotes a former death squad member as confirming that the killers continue to operate and that the issue of the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, which Butalid was tackling at the time he was murdered, “is important to Uy.”
It says that not only were many of the alleged killers employed in Tagum’s Civil Security Unit, they were also guided and advised by the police on their targets, an arrangement that apparently continues to thrive even after Uy ended his stint as mayor.
“Such a system made the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, 54 months ago on Friday, inevitable and those responsible believe they could get away with such an outrage,” the union said.