On Tuesday, December 2, Leo Luna Mila, 35, of Radyo Natin in San Roque
town, Northern Samar, was gunned down by still unidentified killers as
he left the radio station, becoming the seventh journalist to be
murdered this year and the 62nd since 2001, when President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo came to power.
The NUJP calls on everyone, journalists and the public we serve, to
express our outrage and condemnation over continued assaults on the
exercise of press freedom and free expression.
Every murder is one murder too much, and each additional death and
every case that remains unsolved is an indictment of government’s
inutility in fulfilling its supposed mandate to protect its citizens’
rights and uphold their rights and liberties.
It does not help at all when government officials such as Justice
Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor treat the solution of these cases as
a matter of claiming credit instead of a matter of duty, as he did in
the case of Gingoog radio commentator Arecio Padrigao, who was
murdered November 17.
We appreciate the speedy manner with which Blancaflor’s Task Force 211
managed to identify and file charges against the suspects in
Padrigao’s murder and hope it acts with the same dispatch in the case
We likewise hope Blancaflor’s aversion to criticism spurs him to solve
the other murders of our colleagues. It may behoove him to remember
that the record of media killings under this administration is the
worst under any sitting president, including the 14-year dictatorship
of the late Ferdinand Marcos and the combined death toll under former
presidents Aquino, Ramos and Estrada.
We would not begrudge him all the credit then.
But neither should Blancaflor begrudge us the right to criticize the
official inaction and apathy, as well as this administration’s actual
attempts to curtail press freedom, that have nurtured the culture of
impunity responsible for this carnage.
We would like to remind him that of the two cases
that have resulted in convictions, only the gunmen have been punished
while the doubtless powerful and wealthy masterminds remain free.
Until this government shows a true resolve to put an end to this
killings – which time and again, we have said, requires an unequivocal
order, with threats of sanctions for failure to comply, from the
President to government’s law enforcement agencies – and to solve the
other murders. #
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