Tag Archives: Media Killings

[From the web] NUJP demands arrest of media killing ‘mastermind’

NUJP demands arrest of media killing ‘mastermind’
Joel Reyes campaigning to reclaim Palawan governorship despite arrest warrant

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called for the arrest of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, the alleged mastermind in the killing of Palawan broadcaster Gerry Ortega in 2011.

In a statement on Ortega’s 11th death anniversary on Monday, January 24, the NUJP said former Palawan governor Joel Reyes is campaigning to reclaim the top provincial post even as he remains a fugitive from the law.

“[N]ot only is former governor Joel Reyes evading his warrant of arrest for Ortega’s killing, he is running for Palawan governor, according to news reports, and is campaigning while a subject of a manhunt,” the media group said.

Read more

[Statement] Justice for Gwenn Salamida | NUJP

#HumanRights #StopTheKillingsPH

[Statement] Justice for Gwenn Salamida

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condoles with the family and colleagues of Gwenn Salamida of ‘Saksi Ngayon’, who was shot dead in a salon that she owned in Quezon City on August 17.

According to a statement by the National Press Club, Salamida was shot by an unidentified assailant and sustained four gunshot wounds, including two in the head.

NPC said it is in close coordination with the Quezon City Police District and the Presidential Task Force of Media Security on Salamida’s case.

Read more

[From the web] Journalists’ killings: UN experts urge Philippines president-elect to stop instigating deadly violence -OHCHR

Journalists’ killings: UN experts urge Philippines president-elect to stop instigating deadly violence

ohchrGENEVA (6 June 2016) – Two United Nations independent experts on summary executions, and on freedom of expression today urged Philippines president-elect Rodrigo Duterte to stop instigating deadly violence immediately. The experts strongly condemned Mr. Duterte’s recent statements suggesting that journalists are not exempt for assassination.

Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Duterte reportedly stated that most journalists killed in the country have done something wrong. ‘You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong,’ the President-elect said, suggesting that victims were partly to blame for their fate.

“A message of this nature amounts to incitement to violence and killing, in a nation already ranked as the second-deadliest country for journalists,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Cristof Heyns. “These comments are irresponsible in the extreme, and unbecoming of any leader, let alone someone who is to assume the position of the leader of a country that calls itself democratic.”

For the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom opinion and expression, David Kaye, “justifying the killing of journalists on the basis of how they conduct their professional activities can be understood as a permissive signal to potential killers that the murder of journalists is acceptable in certain circumstances and would not be punished.”
“This position is even more disturbing when one considers that Philippines is still struggling to ensure accountability to notorious cases of violence against journalists, such as the Maguindanao massacre,” the human rights expert added.

Mr. Duterte is further reported to have questioned the legal guarantees to journalists who are perceived to have made defamatory comments. ‘That can’t be just freedom of speech. The constitution can no longer help you if you disrespect a person,’ the President-elect stated.

“Such provocative messages indicate to any person who is displeased by the work of a journalist or an activist, for example, that they can attack or kill them without fear of sanction,” Mr. Kaye stressed.

The President-elect has also been reported as promising to pay bounties to police and military officials for every drug lord they turn in. ‘I’m not saying that you kill them, but the order is dead or alive,” Mr. Duterte reportedly said in a televised news conference.

“Talk of ‘dead or alive’ has no role to play in any state that claims to uphold human rights in law enforcement,” Special Rapporteur Heyns stressed, while recalling the limits imposed by international instruments on the conduct of law enforcement forces.

“Intentional lethal use of force may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and not for common policing objectives,” he said. “The President-elect fools no one when he says he is not calling on people to be killed.”


UN Special Rapporteurs Christof Heyns (South Africa) and David Kaye (United States of America) are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

Learn more, log on to:
Summary execution: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
Freedom of expression: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, country page – Philippines: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/PHIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms Brenda Vukovic (+41 22 917 9635 / bvukovic@ohchr.org) or write to  eje@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

All submissions are republished and redistributed in the same way that it was originally
published online and sent to us. We may edit submission in a way that does not alter or
change the original material.

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and
original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the
tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[Campaign] Million candles campaign by CMFR


Act against impunity. Join the Million Candles campaign on November 23, 2014, Sunday, 6 p.m. Gather at different sites. Light a candle wherever you are.



Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[In the news] Ampatuan no-show at arraignment -RAPPLER.com

Ampatuan no-show at arraignment.


March 15, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – The scheduled arraignment of former Maguindanao Gov Andal Ampatuan Sr for electoral sabotage Thursday, March 15, did not push through after the ailing patriarch skipped the proceedings at the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC).

Ampatuan was still reportedly ill after he vomited blood and was rushed to the hospital Friday, March 9. 

Quezon City RTC Branch 221 issued an order to continue Ampatuan’s hospital confinement, said Pasay RTC Branch 112 spokesperson Felda Domingo in an interview.

Read full article @ www.rappler.com

[In the news] International media groups remind PNoy of pledge to protect journalists -GMA News

International media groups remind PNoy of pledge to protect journalists
March 15, 2012

Following the mauling and shooting of Palace reporter over the weekend, international media groups have reminded President Benigno Aquino III of his pledge to protect Philippine journalists during his watch.

The International Federation of Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and Committee to Protect Journalists also called for a speedy probe so the attackers of The Daily Tribune’s Fernan Angeles can be brought to justice.

Angeles was beaten up and shot near his house in Pasig City Sunday night. He is currently confined at the Pasig City General Hospital.

“We call upon President Benigno Aquino III to honor his pre-election commitment to defend press freedom in the Philippines, by seeing that all attacks on media workers are investigated and the perpetrators held accountable for their crimes,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said in an article posted on the group’s website on March 14.

She added Philippine police must quickly establish whether Angeles’ shooting is related to his work as a journalist. “The IFJ condemns the shooting and is concerned by what appears to be a continuing escalation of violence against journalists in the Philippines in 2012.”

At present, authorities are determining whether the attack was indeed related to Angeles’ work. Malacañang has also assured the victim’s family of adequate protection.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[In the news] Malacañang open to forming crack team to probe killings of journalists – PhilStar.com

Malacañang open to forming crack team to probe killings of journalists
By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star
January 08, 2012
 MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said yesterday it was open to the formation of an independent crack team to deal with unexplained killings in light of the murder of Christopher Guarin, a radio commentator of RMN Broadcasting Inc. and publisher and editor-in-chief of the local tabloid Tatak in General Santos City.

This developed as press clubs in Central Mindanao urged President Aquino to raise a reward for the arrest of the killers of Guarin.

“We will discuss that suggestion of the crack team but the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) are always on hand to act swiftly on these cases,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over radio dzRB.

Valte said the police had acted on the earlier incidents of killings and filed cases.

“I think we can see as we have gone along that even for general crimes, the action is faster. The suspects are not just arrested but there are cases and litigation proceeds,” Valte said.

“This will not be treated any differently. The PNP is focused,” she said.

Valte said they would field the suggestion of coming up with a crack team to the President to get his thoughts on the matter.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

[In the news] EDITORIAL – Again, impunity – PhilStar.com

EDITORIAL – Again, impunity
The Philippine Star
January 07, 2012

 In the first week of the year, with the Christmas season not even officially over, another journalist has been murdered. Christopher Guarin, publisher of a community newspaper and a “block-timer” on radio station dxMD in General Santos City, was ambushed while driving home with his wife and nine-year-old daughter late Thursday night. Two men on a motorcycle opened fire and continued shooting as Guarin got out of his car and tried to run. He died of five gunshot wounds.

Police are still trying to determine if the murder was related to Guarin’s work in mass media. He is the first journalist to be killed this year and the 10th since President Aquino assumed power. More attacks are likely to follow unless perpetrators are brought to justice. Scores of journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since the restoration of democracy in 1986, making the country one of the most dangerous in the world for media workers. The poor record in solving the murders has made the country rank third, after Iraq and Somalia, on a so-called Impunity Index drawn up by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

[In the news] Intl groups: Latest media killing in PHL puts govt’s credibility at risk – www.gmanetwork.com

Intl groups: Latest media killing in PHL puts govt’s credibility at risk
January 7, 2012

 As far as international media groups are concerned, the Aquino administration’s credibility may be on the line with the latest media killing in the Philippines, and the first in Asia for 2012.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres/RSF) condemned the murder “Tatak News Nationwide” publisher and Radyo Mo Nationwide (RMN) presenter Christopher Guarin, even as it voiced skepticism over the creation of a new body to probe the case.

“Special units have been set up in the past, such as Task Force 2011, without great results. The government’s credibility is on the line with this new body. The transparency of its investigations must be guaranteed, like that of any inquiry carried out by public officials,” the group said.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

[In the news] First media killing of 2012: Gensan publisher shot dead – InterAksyon.com

First media killing of 2012: Gensan publisher shot dead
by Abigail Kwok and Niccolo Blanco, InterAksyon.com
January 6, 2012

 GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – (UPDATE 10 – 7:25 p.m.) Just six days into the new year, the publisher of a community newspaper was shot dead in front of his wife and young daughter by one of two men riding tandem on a motorcycle along Conel Road in General Santos City past 10 p.m. Thursday.

Christopher Guarin, 42, suffered five gunshots to the body and another to the head and was declared dead at the General Santos City Hospital, the first media practitioner murdered in the country this year.

An updated count by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines recorded Guarin as the 10th media practitioner killed since President Benigno Aquino III assumed office and the 150th since 1986.

Reacting to the latest killing, two lawmakers urged government to let the private sector put an end to media murders.

Malacanang, on the other hand, claimed the police have “identified leads and they are in hot pursuit.”

“We expect the PNP to apprehend the suspects. We condemn the extrajudicial killing of another journalist,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Guarin was publisher and editor-in-chief of the community daily Tatak News and also hosted a block-time program on Radio Mindanao Network’s station dxMD here.

Police Officer 2 Gerald Jubelag, investigator of the Lagao police station, told reporters Guarin, driving his Kia Pride sedan, was with his wife, Lyn, and nine-year old daughter when the attack took place as they were approaching their home in Sunrise Subdivision.

Lyn was grazed on the left arm by a bullet.

Read full article @ interaksyon.com

[In the news] PH remains 3rd most murderous country for press | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features

PH remains 3rd most murderous country for press | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features.

by Ira Pedrasa, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines remained 3rd in the list of most dangerous countries for journalists, with the still unresolved Maguindanao massacre dampening efforts to move out of the impunity index.

In its 2011 Impunity Index report, the United States-based Committee to Protect Journalists said “the government’s case against dozens of defendants in the 2009 massacre in Maguindanao province, in which 32 journalists and media workers were killed, reflects an overall pattern in which Philippine authorities often identify suspects but rarely win convictions.”

The country came next after Iraq and Somalia.

Its rank was unmoved from the 2010 report. The CPJ recorded 69 journalists murdered since 1992.

CPJ, founded by US foreign correspondents, noted it met with Justice officials in 2010 with the latter promising to reverse the country’s record. Nonetheless, the officials noted the task was a difficult one.

“Initial trial proceedings in the Maguindanao killings have been plagued by threats and bribes targeting witnesses, and incompetence and corruption among local investigators. The slow-moving prosecution has yielded no convictions thus far,” the CPJ said.

Sixty-one percent of the journalists murdered covered the politics beat, while 42% covered corruption.

The CPJ noted: “In countries with weak law enforcement, political reporting is the most dangerous beat. Among the unsolved cases on this index, nearly 30 percent of victims had covered politics.”

[In the news] Missing journalist found dead in Davao | Sun.Star

Missing journalist found dead in Davao | Sun.Star.

By Ben O. Tesiorna

DAVAO CITY — Saturnino Apoyon, a former bureau chief of the Philippine News Agency here, was found dead on Tuesday in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental. The cause of his death was still unclear.

Apoyon’s body was found floating in the waters off Governor Generoso, said Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who confirmed the death of the veteran journalist.

The 75-year-old Apoyon had gone missing since last week.

Duterte said she is already arranging for the immediate transport of Apoyon’s body back to Davao City. The body is expected to arrive in the city Wednesday.

The mayor said the family reportedly refused to have Apoyon’s body autopsied by the authorities.

Reports said Apoyon was last seen in Victoria Plaza in Davao City.

Apoyon’s wife, Annie, earlier said her husband had left their house on May 19 and had not returned since. (Sunnex)

[In the news] Aftershock: Trauma after the Maguindanao massacre | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features

Aftershock: Trauma after the Maguindanao massacre | ABS-CBN News | Latest Philippine Headlines, Breaking News, Video, Analysis, Features.

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

BANGKOK, Thailand — Rowena Paraan is a veteran reporter of many of the country’s upheavals in recent history.

But even she breaks down in tears when she recounts how she first gathered 140 relatives of the 32 journalists who were killed in the infamous November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.

The gathering on January 2009 in Palawan was the first time that relatives of the 32 massacre victims were assembled in one room. Paraan, secretary general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, called for the meeting to sort out misunderstandings between the relatives regarding the multiple murder cases filed against the Ampatuan clan and their supporters.

“At first, I thought I would just referee the group. But because it was their first time together, I asked them how they were doing and it came pouring out. By the time the sixth wife started talking about her husband, I couldn’t stop crying,” she recounted.

Less than 2 years later, the gruesome incident continues to shock. On Nov. 23, 2009, armed men kidnapped and brutally killed 58 people in a hilly portion of Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province and buried the bodies in shallow graves.

One veteran reporter who witnessed the investigation said the graves looked like a layer cake “with cars, bodies and dirt piled one on top of the other.”

At least 32 of the 58 victims were journalists sent to cover the filing of the certificate of candidacy of gubernatorial candidate Esmael Mangudadatu. Others were supporters of the Mangudadatus or were just motorists mistakenly identified as part of the Mangudadatu convoy.

Most of those killed were based in General Santos City, and majority worked for Mindanao-based publications.

Paraan said she joined 4 separate fact-finding missions to the massacre site from November to December of 2009. She said one of the most arduous tasks in the early part of the mission was identifying the bodies, meeting the families and establishing a body count in the massacre.

As a result, she witnessed firsthand the shock and trauma of relatives of the massacre victims.

Read full article @ abs-cbnNEWS.com

[In the news] DOJ to reopen ‘cold’ cases of extrajudicial killings – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News

DOJ to reopen ‘cold’ cases of extrajudicial killings – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News.

(First of two parts)

In the chronicles of human rights violations, Judge Ariston Rubio is listed as one of the first victims of extrajudicial killings under the administration of Gloria Arroyo.

Almost a decade since he was slain in broad daylight by two unidentified gunmen on the Batac-Currimao road in Ilocos Norte on Oct. 31, 2001, Rubio’s murder remains unsolved.

Like Rubio, United Methodist pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa was also a victim of extrajudicial killings (EJKs), the 21st church worker killed during the Arroyo administration.

Taken from his home in Daraga, Albay by 10 hooded men in the evening of Aug. 3, 2006, Sta. Rosa was hogtied, beaten up and then dragged to a nearby creek where he was shot six times. His killers have never been punished.

In both cases, years of investigation ended in a blank wall, with police and prosecutors giving up either for lack of witnesses or insufficiency of evidence.

The Department of Justice, however, is set to wipe the dust off forgotten cases like these and reopen them, following a directive from President Benigno Aquino III to resolve and put closure to cases of human rights violations during Arroyo’s term.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima recently signed Department Order 848 creating a task force that will reopen cold case files on EJKs, torture and enforced disappearances.

“Those that didn’t even reach the investigation stage, are still under investigation by the police, by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), other investigating agencies…we will address that issue,” said Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III who was designated head of the task force.

“I have sent several memoranda to our prosecutors in the field all over the country where there are pending preliminary investigations and pending court hearing involving human rights cases,” he added.

Read full erticle at GMAnews.tv

[In the news] End killings, media beseech P-Noy – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

End killings, media beseech P-Noy – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Filed Under: Media killings, Politics, government

MANILA, Philippines—WHEN WILL the killings finally end?

The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists Inc. (FFFJ), a national network of press-oriented organizations, asked the question of President Aquino yesterday as they expressed alarm over the unabated killing of Filipino journalists.

In an open letter to Aquino, FFFJ and other members of the media appealed an end to the culture of impunity that has led to the murder of journalists in the country.

“Those of us who have championed the cause of slain journalists are alarmed. There are today more assassins and masterminds who have so far escaped punishment than the few who have been tried and convicted,” the letter said.

“For so long as this impunity reigns, all Filipinos, not only journalists and media workers, but ordinary citizens as well will continue to be at risk,” it added.

As the country marks a period of reflection during Holy Week, FFFJ said Mr. Aquino should take time to also contemplate what needs to be done to end the media killings.

Read full article at Inquirer.net

EDITORIAL – Impunity | The Philippine Star News Opinion

editorial cartoon by Philstar.com

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.

Fire them – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

(Sharing Conrado de Quiros’ Column Theres The Rub, today he talks about the murder of Marlina Flores-Sumera- HRonlinePH)

Fire them – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

Theres The Rub
By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Source: inquirer.net Posted 22:02:00 03/28/2011
Filed Under: Media killings, Crime and Law and Justice, Police


Conrado De Quiros' PDI Column Banner source: http://sacredmusings.wordpress.com

AFTER I first read about the details of Marlina Flores-Sumera’s murder last Friday, I too thought that it might have to do with something other than her work as an announcer for a radio station in Malabon. Her colleagues said she wasn’t handling a particularly incendiary program, one that called for taking on the corrupt and ungodly who are to be found in high places employing low life. And she wasn’t confrontational.

As it appears, Sumera might have been murdered for her work not as a journalist but as an organizer. Sumera was one of the leading figures of a group calling for the distribution of a 4.2-hectare lot in Maysilo, Malabon, claiming it is government property. A rival group opposes that, saying the land is owned privately. Shortly before she was shot, the courts had just ruled in favor of Sumera’s group.

Sumera might have been murdered for reasons other than that she was a journalist. It doesn’t matter. Solving her murder remains the government’s No. 1 priority.

At the very least that is so because Sumera was a crusader, journalist or not. She was doing something for the little people of which she was one herself. Though she wasn’t rich or powerful, and though she probably understood the risks of pissing off those who were, she still did what she did, out of conviction, out of solidarity with her neighbors, out of a desire to give her own children a better life. That is what journalists do, or are supposed to, whether “in uniform” or out of it.

Quite apart from that, Sumera was ordinary folk. She was not a candidate or a BIR/Customs official or a pawnshop owner/loan shark who was gunned down while her car was pulling away from her garage or while it stewed before a red light. Sumera was a working woman, a member of the bedraggled class that hauls its ass off every early morning to go to the workplace to bring food to the table. She was killed while she was walking to the jeepney stop to take her daily commute. The assailant crept up behind her and shot her in the head, as cold-blooded a hit as you can find.

Sumera left behind a girl and two boys, aged 13, 11 and 6. If you are a parent, that’s the one thing that will get to you. Because you know what it is to worry about yourself not because of yourself but because of the children you will deprive of yourself if something happens to you. You can believe that Sumera’s last thoughts, such as there was an instant of time that afforded it, were about her children.

Sumera was ordinary folk. That’s what makes her case extraordinarily urgent. It makes the loudest claim to justice of all.

At the very most, whether the motive for killing Sumera had to do with her being a journalist or not, she was still a journalist and her murder carries a message for journalists. Or it has the most humongous consequences for journalists.

Her murder adds to the culture of impunity surrounding the killings of journalists. Her murder emboldens others to think of that option when dealing with journalists. It’s the fourth case of a journalist being killed in this country since President Benigno Aquino III took over, which suggests that the culture of impunity hasn’t been curbed at all. Or those steeped in it are not loath to test the new waters. Malabon comes pretty close to the capital. What’s to prevent the corrupt and ungodly from taking the killings a step further, finding someone better known and making the killing look as though it had nothing to do with journalism, or was payback time only for a “dirty journalist” (like a “dirty cop”) which can’t be hard with the AC-DC tribe?

As it is, the murder of Gerry Ortega hasn’t been solved and continues to drag on. Ortega was a journalist as well quite apart from being an environmentalist, taking on Palawan’s corrupt and ungodly, particularly where their greed was despoiling God’s earth. His murder sends this message to journalists, quite apart from environmentalists: “No matter how high up you go, no matter who your protectors are, we will get you. You cross us, you will pay.” That is the very message government in fact should be sending murderers. “No matter how rich and powerful you are, no matter who is protecting you, we will drag you out. You break the law, you will pay.”

You can’t send that message to criminals if you can’t catch them.

There is one surefire way to do so. That is by firing the entire police officialdom of the district where the murder occurs if they are not able to solve it in record time. Will that deplete the ranks of the police? Sure, and the better for it. Or the better for the country. That alone should assure that the crime rate will drop by half, to go by the Philippine response rate to crime, which is the fastest in the world: a crime happens and the police are already there.

Why should we wait for atrocities like the one that happened at Luneta last year when a hostage-taker massacred his hostages to demand that the heads of the police and the Department of Interior and Local Government roll for having botched their jobs? What is so different between that and the massacre of journalists? If anything, the latter is worse. So much worse.

Journalists, however they sometimes appear to be a curse, are one of God’s and democracy’s gifts to the world. It’s contemptible how we can allow the very people who try to make us see that “The truth shall set you free” to discover themselves only that “The truth shall make you dead.” The death of one man diminishes us all, said John Donne. Well, the death of one journalist pauperizes us all. The deaths of foreign tourists do not weigh more heavily than the deaths of local journalists. The first can only embarrass us before the world, the second should damn us before our eyes. Law enforcement officials can’t solve the murder of journalists?

Fire them.

Massacre prosecutors’ row worries victims’ kin – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

Massacre prosecutors’ row worries victims’ kin – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos.

Atty. Harry Roque Photo: http://humanrightshouse.org

By Marlon Ramos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:31:00 03/24/2011

Filed Under: Maguindanao Massacre, Crime and Law and Justice, Legal issues, Ampatuan Trial

MANILA, Philippines—The sudden resignation of the state prosecutors handling the multiple murder case against the Ampatuan clan has caused anxiety among families of some of the journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre, their lawyer said Wednesday.

Harry Roque said his clients were at a loss over the sudden change in the composition of the Department of Justice (DoJ) panel assigned to lead the prosecution of what many referred to as “the trial of the century.”

“The families don’t understand why this should happen. They don’t know whom to trust now,” Roque told the Inquirer over the phone.

Roque, who represents the families of 13 journalist victims, questioned the supposed arbitrariness of Nena Santos, lawyer of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, in influencing the DoJ’s handling of the case.

Mangudadatu’s wife and four other relatives were among the 57 persons killed in the Nov. 23, 2010, massacre, the country’s worst political violence.

Roque said he was “disturbed” by the decision of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to replace members of the panel of prosecutors, then led by Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon.

But before De Lima could issue her recommendation, Fadullon and other prosecutors had already submitted their resignation.

Roque said he was not surprised by the decision of another panel member, Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez, to also leave the prosecution team.

Suarez tendered his irrevocable resignation from the panel on Friday, citing the rift between the state prosecutors and Santos.

Santos, De Lima’s classmate at the San Beda College of Law, reportedly asked the justice secretary to replace the prosecution panel due to various differences.

Roque disclosed that De Lima did not consult him when she decided to replace the six senior members of the prosecution panel.

He said the alleged involvement of Mangudadatu’s brother, Buluan Mayor Ibrahim Mangudadatu, in the ambush of a prosecutor in Maguindanao and Santos’ perceived influence over the new prosecution panel “are very disturbing.”

“The prosecutors’ panel should be independent from politicians. We believe that the Maguindanao massacre (was an affront to) the freedom of the press and was not a simple political killing,” he said.

Roque also lamented Santos’ supposed treatment of the families of the slain journalists, claiming she was treating them as “second class victims.”

“We will not let that happen,” he said.

Sought for comment, De Lima said the DoJ prosecutors were “in perfect chemistry” with the private lawyers.

She said the resignation of the prosecutors were just “momentary concerns” and should not affect the prosecution of the Ampatuans.

“These are momentary concerns affecting the case so please, don’t make an issue out of it,” De Lima told reporters.