PNP miserably fails to present any proof on significant headway in the investigation of media killings – NUJP

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines welcomes the Philippine National Police’s statement that it is “implementing more tangible actions to fulfill its crucial role in complementing national government efforts to resolve media killings and other threats to press freedom,” except for one very, very crucial item — the statement miserably fails to present any proof towards achieving this goal, much more what PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac calls “significant headway in the investigation of cases.”
Sindac claims Task Force USIG of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management has investigated 42 cases resulting in “the successful prosecution of eight (8) accused responsible in separate cases of media slay(sic).”
He cites the murders of Marlene Garcia-Esperat (3 convicted), Edgar Damalerio (1 convicted), Klein Cantoneros (1 convicted), Armando Pace (1 convicted), Rowel Endrinal (1 convicted), Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega (1 convicted) and Arecio Padrigao Sr. (1 convicted).
But not only are the figures wrong to begin with, these convictions pale if seen against the 171 media murders in the country since 1986.
And, may we point out, all these convictions are of those who pulled the triggers or served as lookouts. None of these are of masterminds.
In fact, in the case of Esperat, the accused brains continue to report for work at the Department of Agriculture while, in the case of Ortega, they remain at large, allowed to slip out of the country by hirelings in government.
If this is all the PNP has to report, it is really all but admitting failure. And may we also point out that the reason most of these cases even reached conviction is because of the relentless efforts of media organizations and the victims’ families.
The PNP also says it has “intensified the campaign against Wanted Persons and Organized Crime Groups, particularly gun-for-hire syndicates who may also be involved in media killing.”
This should, of course, be welcome news not only for media but for all citizens of this republic. However, news report after news report will bear out the fact that syndicates that hire out their expertise in assassinations continue to thrive.
The Human Rights Watch report on the “Digos death squad” and its hand in the murder of broadcaster Rogelio Butalid last year remains fresh. And lest we forget, close to a hundred suspects in the Ampatuan massacre remain at large, most of them members of a private army that, at its height, boasted more firepower than the government’s security forces in Maguindanao.
Sindac says there is “no pattern” to the killings and he is right, but only insofar as there is no official program to murder journalists unlike the targeted killings of activists and other dissenters.
However, as we have pointed out again and again, there IS one pattern, not only behind media murders but, come to think of it, of the myriad of other social problems plaguing our country. And that pattern is the continued system of governance that not only tolerates but actually nurtures corrupt warlord politicians, who are the primary suspects in ordering the deaths of so many of our colleagues, but whose loyalty is indispensable to the national government.
It is likewise infuriating that Sindac, like President Benigno Aquino III, engages in the sickening charade of blaming the victims for their fates, by citing motives such as “personal grudge, double-cross, land dispute, and business rivalry” for the killings.
These are clear attempts to downplay the continued assaults on journalists and freedom of the press in the country.
And, as we have said before, questions of ethics may have played a role in a number of cases but this is still no justification for murder. For if, as Sindac and Aquino seem to imply, corruption justifies murder, it should be food for thought why those most guilty of it continue to thrive in the corridors of power.
Reference:
Rowena Paraan
NUJP Chairperson

On the Murder of Mindoro’s Nilo Baculo Sr.

STATEMENT
9 June 2014
In 2008, Mindoro journalist Nilo Baculo Sr. petitioned the courts for protection after learning of a plot to kill him from the hired gun contracted to carry out the hit.
On June 27 of that year, the Court of Appeals denied his petition for a writ of amparo, calling the reported threat “unsubstantiated.”
Reacting to the ruling, Baculo said: “Our justice system is rotten. You have to die first before you can prove” that a threat does exist.
Alas, six years later, Baculo’s words have proven sadly prophetic.
At noon of Monday, June 9, 2014, the 67-year old Baculo, who hosted the program “Isumbong Mo kay Ka Nilo” over radio station dwIM in Calapan City, was gunned down.
He was the 165th journalist murdered in the country, the 33rd under the watch of President Benigno Aquino III and the fourth this year.
Between a president who dismisses media killings because, to him, most victims are targeted “not because of professional activities, but, shall we say, other issues,” courts that, as Baculod sadly foretold, will believe lives are in danger only when those lives are actually lost, and security forces that, as a recent Human Rights Watch report and a number of other investigations into journalists’ murders have noted, are most likely involved, demanding, even hoping for, justice may seem to be an exercise in futility.
But we cannot give in to despair and cynicism.
We will continue to cry out for justice.
We will continue to call out Mr. Aquino, as we have called out the presidents before him, for their accountability in our colleagues’ deaths, not least of all because of their apathy.
We will never tire of pointing out that the State’s failure to protect its own citizens makes it accountable for each and every extrajudicial murder that makes a mockery of all claims to our being a democracy.
We will never tire of urging our colleagues and our people to join us in demanding accountability and justice.
For, more than apathetic or even complicit government, the other sure way to ensure that the impunity with which extrajudicial killings are committed will continue to thrive is indifference.
Reference:
Rowena C. Paraan
NUJP Chairperson

Freedom of expression cannot be negotiated

STATEMENT
29 May 2014
It was, perhaps, to be expected of our “honorable” politicians, that they again use media as their whipping boy when scandal blows up in their faces.
And so we once again have lawmakers angered by the allegations raised by ONE newspaper slavering to sic the right of reply bill wholesale on media.
Worse, we have the chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights making like a drama queen withdrawing support for the decriminalization of libel.
But it was obvious he never intended to back libel decriminalization in the first place.
One only has to recall his statement after the hearing on the proposal when he blurted out the classic cop-out that there were bound to be even more media killings if libel were decriminalized.
And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Pimentel has bared himself as a stereotypical abuser of the criminal libel law, with his desire to “take advantage” of the statute while it remains in the Revised Penal Code to exact revenge on Janet Lim Napoles and “some media outfits” for deigning to drag him into the mud and filth of the pork barrel scam.
Yes, we have admitted and will admit it again that ethics, or the lack thereof, are a serious concern for the Philippine media and, to some extent, is among the reasons – NOT justification – for the continued assaults on and vilification of journalists, as well as, sadly, the erosion of public sympathy and trust.
But, NO, we will not allow the profession to be butchered and mangled into a servile mouthpiece for the very people responsible for the massive thievery that constitutes governance in this benighted land.
We will not, as those who wish to force the right of reply bill on us, allow them to take over newspaper, air and online space to freely spout their lies and inanities without challenge.
While we will never condone irresponsible journalism, neither can they use it as an excuse to expropriate what is not theirs.
Besides, being abused by a single entity does not deprive them of their right to reply to the charges in other media or, as so many of these suddenly sensitive creatures are known to do, set up their own “outlets” or purchase their own airtime to freely inflict on those who would read or listen to them their own brand of “public information and opinion.”
As for the senator’s theory that decriminalizing libel will lead to more media killings, why then, if indeed corruption were a valid justification for murder, do the corrupt continue to thrive in the halls of Congress and the corridors of power?

Tawi-Tawi journo 27th killed under Aquino

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Zamboanga-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi condemns the latest killing of a community-based journalist in Bongao, Tawi-tawi just a day after the observance of World Press Freedom.

 

Richard Nadjid, 35, married and a father of five, was gunned down the night of May 4, 2014 near his home in Bongao.

 

While investigators say they have yet to establish the motive for the killing, it is disturbing that Tawi-Tawi provincial police director Senior Supt. Joselito Salido has immediately and baselessly dismissed the possibility of Nadjid’s murder being work-related, calling the victim “just one disc jockey, a person that plays popular music on FM radio station. He is not a journalist.”

 

That the chief of a province’s police force can display not only insensitivity but, more alarming, ignorance reflects on the quality of what is supposed to be the country’s main law enforcement agency and explains why media murders and human rights violations in general continue to be committed with impunity.

 

For Salido’s enlightenment, Nadjid was not only the station manager of DxNN Power Myx FM station in Bongao, he also handled the station’s regular morning news and public affairs program.

 

But Salido’s cop-out on Nadjid’s murder is not surprising given how his commander-in-chief, President Benigno Aquino III, himself set the tone by dismissing media killings with the blanket insinuation that these murders were prodded by motives other than the victims’ work.

 

Nadjid is the second member of Tawi-Tawi’s fourth estate killed and the 27th under Aquino, the worst year-on-year record under any administration.

 

On June 25, 2007, radio broadcaster Vicente Sumalpong, production supervisor of Radyo ng Bayan, was gunned down. As with ALL media killings in this country, the mastermind remains at large.

 

Reference

Rowena C. Paraan

Chairperson, NUJP

Media Advisory: Media groups file motion seeking cyber libel unconstitutional

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, together with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Philippine Press Institute and other journalist groups have filed today (Mar. 12) a motion asking the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify questionable provisions in the Cybercrime Prevention Act, including the one on online libel.
The petition seeks to declare online libel in Sec. 4(C)4 of the said act unconstitutional because it constitutes prior restraint and curtails our basic rights to free speech and expression, an anachronism in an age when, around the world, libel has been decriminalized.

The petition cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Philippines is a party. The said covenant upholds the right to free speech and expression, and maintains no defamation law shall be passed stifling these freedoms.

Petitioners likewise sought to invalidate sections which unduly delegated judicial and legislative powers to law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice.

Attached to this advisory is a .doc copy of the petition, filed at 3:00 pm today before the SC.
For reference

Rowena Paraan
Chairperson

Concerned UP professors campaign against academic calendar change as UP Diliman admin holds faculty referendum

 

 

N.B. – This press release was distributed during a press conference this morning (February 24) at Vinzons Hall, UP Diliman. Please feel free to share. Thank you.

PRESS RELEASE
February 24, 2014

Concerned UP professors campaign against academic calendar change as UP Diliman admin holds faculty referendum

Concerned faculty members of the University of the Philippines (UP) wore their academic costume called “UP Sablay” on Monday (February 24) to register their dissent in the administration’s decision to change the academic calendar.

It may be recalled that the Board of Regents decided last February 6 to implement a shift in the academic calendar from June-March to August-May in all constituent units except UP Diliman (UPD).

However, the UPD administration decided to push through with a faculty referendum from Monday to Wednesday (February 24 to 26) despite the initial decision of the UPD University Council (composed of assistant, associate and full professors) to vote against the shift in the academic calendar.

In a statement, the Congress of Teachers and Educators for Nationalism and Democracy called on UP professors to retain the current academic calendar. “The synchronization of our calendar with our Asian partners in higher education and the world does not guarantee the democratization of access to UP Diliman especially among the poor but deserving students…(T)he Administration has never given any sufficient and compelling reasons why we should rush the synchronization of our calendar with our partner universities. But as faculty we have all the reasons to demand that our University should focus rather on demanding greater state subsidy, equitable admission policy, and creating a truly nurturing environment and providing support facilities.”

In an open letter to the Commission on Higher Education, Dr. Doracie Nantes, a former UP professor who now teaches at Australia National University (ANU), said that “The Philippines is still an agricultural country with 60-80 percent of communities (depending on the level of economic development in each respective region) dependent on agriculture and fishery livelihood systems.” Given this, she asked, “How do we account for the negative implications of this change in academic calendar in relation to the availability of disposable income among farming and fishing families who like any other families in our country would like to send their young members to college so they can get better chances of being employed in less-taxing and better compensated jobs?”

Nantes also added that “Internationalization does not mean adjusting our class opening schedule to schools and universities in other countries so that the Filipino students will not have to wait several months to enrol in other universities abroad, or for the foreign students to enrol in our universities.” She also raised the following questions: “(A)re our schools for Filipinos or are we saying here that they are built to serve the educational needs of foreign students? Is the Philippine education system for all young members of the Philippine Society all over the country and not just for the few members of the more economically well-off members of the Filipino society – who are the only ones who can afford to send their children to the USA or Australia or Europe? May I ask whose interests are we serving here? Changing the academic calendar of the country should take these things into account.”

During the press conference of concerned UPD faculty members on Monday (February 24), 9:00 a.m. at Vinzons Hall in UP Diliman, those who expressed opposition to change the academic calendar were Dr. Emmanuel De Dios (UP School of Economics), Dr. Eduardo Tadem (Asian Center), Dr. Victor Paz (Archaeological Studies Program), Dr. Ramon Guillermo (College of Arts and Letters), Dr. Gerry Lanuza (College of Social Science and Philosophy) and Prof. Marivic Raquiza (National Center for Public Administration and Governance). Student Regent Krista Melgarejo also attended the press conference.

The nature of opposition is both procedural and political, the concerned faculty members stressed. At the forum held at the UPD National Institute of Physics last February 10, it was argued that there are clear disadvantages in changing the academic calendar to suit mainly Western standards, a practice that was done in 1963 but dropped two years later.

The concerned UP faculty members stressed that their objective is not just for UPD to have its own calendar but also for other constituent units to rethink their decision. “The decision to change UP’s academic calendar reflects the kind of governance the UP System currently has. The administration accepted at face value what the CU administrators the favorable decision submitted to them despite the lack of consultations and indepth discussions prior to making the decision.”

For verification and more details, please contact Prof. Danilo Arao, Department of Journalism, at (0908) 866-2726.

 

(end)

 

Danilo A. Arao
Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism

College of Mass Communication Plaridel Hall

University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, Q.C. 1101

Telephone: (+632) 920-6852, 981-8500 loc. 2672

Fax: (+632) 920-6852

Mobile Phone: (+63908) 866-ARAO

Email: danilo.arao@up.edu.ph

Blog: http://risingsun.dannyarao.com

 

Policeman mauls photojournalist during protest dispersal

Press Release

CMFR/Philippines – A policeman allegedly mauled a photojournalist after the dispersal of protesters in Davao City on 13 February 2013.  The Davao City mayor said he would investigate the matter after the journalists’ union condemned the incident.

Davao City is some 1,500 kilometers south of Manila.

Photojournalist Barry Ohaylan of Pinoy Weekly and Kilab Multimedia was covering a clash between protesters and the anti-riot police of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) when a policeman hit him with a truncheon, resulting in injuries on his arm and a gash on  his forehead. Other protesters and media workers came to his rescue.

Farmers from Panacan village had gathered in front of the Eastern Mindanao Command Headquarter to protest military camps in their communities, Ohaylan told CMFR on 18 February 2014.

“The police already had control of the situation (when I was attacked). The protesters had already dispersed but they kept pushing forward,” Ohaylan said.

“I kept saying I was from the media. I was wearing my press badge and holding my camera, but a policeman still struck me on the arm, then on the forehead and elbow.”

Ohaylan added that the policeman who hit him also challenged other media workers to a fist-fight after the incident.

The Davao City chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the incident and denounced a statement by DCPO Director Vicente Danao.

“Danao said that the media should not get in the way and if they do “parang kasama na rin nila (it’s like the media are one of the protesters),” NUJP’s statement said.

“We take this to mean that Danao and the police consider any journalist who covers direct confrontation (between authorities and protesters) as ‘getting in the way’ and as fair game to violence and similar treatment against ordinary citizens.”

In an interview with ABS-CBN Davao, Danao said the protesters were dispersed because they had no permit to rally and were obstructing traffic. He said media workers hurt in the dispersal were collateral damage.

On 17 February 2014, the online news site Rappler.com reported that Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he will launch an investigation on the mauling.

“I must conduct an investigation to clear things,” Duterte said according Rappler.com.

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