By Nestor P. Burgos
TAGAYTAY CITY – The continuing assassination of media persons has prodded journalists to call for better and safer working conditions for members of the press.
Around 80 delegates of the 6th National Congress of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines have passed a manifesto condemning the killing of journalists in the country.
“We call for justice for all murdered journalists and challenge law enforcement agencies and the government to resolve all the cases of killings of journalists,” they said in the manifesto issued Sunday on the last day of the congress held at the CBCP Retreat House here.
Founded in 1986 by the late Antonio Ma. Nieva, the NUJP is the largest organization of media workers with more than 50 provincial and city chapters. It is the Philippine affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which represents over 600,000 journalists and media workers worldwide.
Five Filipino journalists were murdered this year, despite government pronouncements and promises assuring the safety of journalists in the country, the manifesto said.
The latest are broadcasters Martin Roxas in Capiz and Dennis Cuesta in General Santos City raising the death toll to 96 since1986 and 60 since 2001.
The group said journalists all over the country are also facing dismal economic and working conditions.
It said Filipino journalists and media workers are among those suffering the brunt of the soaring costs of rice and other basic commodities, transport fares and other services.
The delegates called on owners of newspapers, radio and television stations and on-line news sites to improve the working conditions of their staff by increasing wages and providing transportation and communication allowances and other subsidies and also urged them to ensure the safety of their personnel especially those covering armed conflicts and disasters.
The group also called on all journalists to unite in asserting their right to decent working conditions and defending Press Freedom and for the public to support the call of journalists.
Delegates of the Congress observed a minute of silence on Sunday during the burial of Roxas in Maayon town in Capiz.
The NUJP also elected its officers for 2008-2010 including a 15-member National Directorate.
Jose Torres Jr. (GMANews.TV) was re-elected as chairperson. The other elected officers were: Nestor Burgos Jr. (Philippine Daily Inquirer), Vice Chairperson; Sonny Fernandez (ABS-CBN), Secretary General; Marlon Ramos (Philippine Daily Inquirer), Deputy Secretary General; Rowena Paraan (NUJP Safety Office), Treasurer; and Alwyn Alburo (GMA 7), Auditor.*NPB
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