EDITORIAL – Impunity | The Philippine Star News Opinion.
Source: Philstar.com (The Philippine Star)
On the sixth anniversary of the murder of a crusading journalist, a radio broadcaster was shot dead in Malabon City. Investigators believe the murder of Marlina Sumera had something to do with her role in a homeowners’ association rather than her work as host of a public service program on radio station dzME. But the only way to find out is to catch her killers. And as of yesterday – over a week after she was gunned down in the morning of March 24 – no suspect had been arrested.
Six years ago on March 24, newspaper columnist Marlene Garcia Esperat was shot dead near her home in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat. Three men were convicted of the murder, but two government officials accused of ordering the killing have escaped prosecution and no mastermind has been punished. This is typical of many of the murder cases involving journalists. The failure to punish perpetrators made the Philippines rank third in the 2010 global impunity index prepared by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Only last January, another radio broadcaster was shot dead in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan. Gerardo Ortega was a vocal critic of mining operations in the province. Former provincial governor Joel Reyes has been implicated in the murder; he has denied the charges. The alleged gunman, arrested shortly after the killing, said he was paid to assassinate Ortega. Whether this case will prosper and Ortega will get justice remains to be seen.
Sumera, president of the Silonian Homeowners Association in the Malabon barangay of Maysilo, was reportedly involved in a dispute over property development with a rival homeowners’ group. Police have tagged a woman as Sumera’s likely killer. The woman, believed to be a hired gun, is also wanted for the murder of a barangay captain in Navotas on March 15.
Whether or not Sumera’s killing was related to her broadcasting work, every murder must be solved. So far, too many murders targeting journalists are still waiting to be solved nationwide. This failure breeds the impunity that encourages more attacks.