COLUMNIST R. TIGLAO is right, as he said in his column yesterday, under President BS Aquino, the Philippines has become the most violent country in the world, next only to North Korea.
And, as today’s column of Yen Makabenta tells us in his piece today, “Of the five worst countries where journalists are murdered with impunity, only the Philippines, at fourth place, is not in a state of large-scale armed conflict. This was noted by the Committee to Protect Journalists in its latest Global Impunity Index.”
The index shows that the Philippines is rated worse than South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Mexico, Pakistan and Russia and is only a little better than Somalia, Iraq and Syria.
We wholeheartedly agree with the following statement on November 2 of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, titled “Murder of broadcaster is clear case of impunity.”
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The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the murder of our colleague Jose Bernardo, correspondent of radio station dwIZ and columnist of the tabloid Bandera Pilipino, who was gunned down two days before the world commemorates the International Day Against Impunity today, November 2. We demand that authorities swiftly get to the bottom of his killing and arrest all those responsible, including the masterminds.
The brazen manner in which Bernardo, the 30th journalist slain during the watch of President Benigno Aquino 3rd, was gunned down outside a restaurant in Quezon City, underscores the impunity with which media killings and other extrajudicial murders continue to be committed because of government apathy toward human rights and its primary duty, to protect the lives of its citizens.
Under this administration, a large part of the blame should fall on Aquino, who has displayed a penchant for blaming practically everything wrong with his governance, or lack thereof, on the media, which can only embolden those who would impose the ultimate censorship – death – coupled with an utterly uncaring attitude towards the murders of journalists and human rights violations in general.
This, after all, is the president who could not even get the numbers right on the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, the worst single incident of electoral violence in the country’s recent history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever recorded.
And yet, the Philippine media in general remain free and independent because Filipino journalists insist that they remain so, despite the physical and, yes, economic challenges they face. Of this we are extremely proud.
We call on all our colleagues to remain steadfast to our calling and on the people we serve to stand with us in demanding justice for Jose Bernardo and all other fallen journalists.