BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Posted 11:00 P.M., May 31, 2006
Journalists all over the country and friends from cause-oriented organizations wore black today in various protest activities to bid farewell to slain colleague Fernando “Dong” Batul, a commentator for DYPR in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
Batul was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding men at early morning on May 22. He was the third journalist slain in the Philippines this month alone, and the fifth this year. He is the 42nd journalist killed under the Arroyo administration, and the 79th since 1986 – when democracy was supposed to have been restored in the Philippines following the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship.
“Most of the slain journalists lost their lives in the line of duty,” National Union of Journalists (NUJP) director Jose Torres Jr. told reporters during a candle-lighting activity at the Boy Scouts Circle in Quezon City. “This is what makes the killings alarming.”
In Quezon City, NUJP was joined by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), Philippine Center for Photojournalism (PCP), Association of Responsible Media (Armed), Alyansa ng Filipinong Mamamahayag (AFIMA or Alliance of Filipino Journalists), Bayan Muna (People First), and the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR). Former cabinet secretaries Dinky Soliman and Teresita Quintos-Deles were also at the candle-lighting.
Similar protest activities were held in Puerto Princesa City, Baguio City, Olongapo City, Albay, Lucena City, Pampanga, Rizal, Bacolod City, Iloilo, Tacloban City, Davao City, Pagadian City, Ozamiz City, General Santos City, Tarlac City, Laguna, Ormoc City, and Northern Samar.
“Indeed, it is the supreme irony that the democracy we are supposed to have won back in 1986 has claimed more journalists – 79 thus far – than the 34 lost throughout the whole 14-year Marcos dictatorship,” the NUJP declared in a statement.