Journalists Pay Tribute to Slain Colleagues

Members of the media paid tribute to their slain colleagues, December 10, at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.


Members of the media paid tribute to their slain colleagues, December 10, at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said 98 journalists have been killed since 1986, 62 since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed power, and seven during this year alone.

Journalists lit candles and offered an ecumenical service for slain journalists.

In his prayer, Rev. Ray Gelloagan said, “Kung sino ang nagsasabi ng katotohanan, sila ang sinisikil. Kung sino ang nagsasabi ng kamalian ay dinadakila.” (Those who tell the truth are being repressed. Those who say lies are the ones being honored.)

Isagani Yambot, publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, read the poem of John Donne “For whom the bell tolls.”

Yambot dedicated the last paragraph of the poem to journalists.

“Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.”

Teary-eyed, Yambot said, “Sa bawat pagpaslang ng isang peryodista, nababawasan tayo hindi lang bilang isang tao, kundi bilang isang mamamahayag. Ang pagpaslang sa peryodista ay nakakabawas din sa kalayaan ng ating bayan.” (For every reporter killed, we are diminished not only as a person but also as a journalist. The killing of a journalist also lessens the freedom in this country.)

Yambot condemned the Arroyo government for doing nothing to stop the killing of journalists. “Labanan natin ang culture of impunity… Ang administrasyon ay walang parusang ibinibigay [sa mga salarin.]” (Let us fight against the culture of impunity…This administration does not punish the perpetrators.)

Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, himself a journalist during the 70s, said government institutions are not equipped to resolve the cases of killings.

Rowena Carranza-Paraan, head of the Media Safety Office of the NUJP and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), recalled the killing of Marlene Esperat.

Esperat, a columnist for The Midland Review, was shot dead in front of her children by a lone gunman inside her house in Sultan Kudarat on March 24, 2005.

She mentioned that in a forum organized by the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc.(FFFJ), December 10, Nena Santos, private prosecutor for the Esperat case, said the alleged masterminds have not been punished yet.

The FFFJ monitors four other murder charges in the killing of journalists Philip Agustin, Roger Mariano, Rolando Ureta and Herson Hinolan.

Paraan also enumerated other forms of attacks against journalists. She cited the handcuffing and ‘processing’ of journalists who covered the Manila Peninsula incident.

Rebel soldiers led by former soldier and current Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danny Lim occupied the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati City, November 29, 2007. Reporters who covered the event were apprehended by the police after the rebel soldiers have surrendered.

Paraan also cited the filing of libel charges against 45 journalists by First Gentleman Jose Miguel ‘Mike’ Arroyo and the warning of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez to journalists that they may be held criminally liable when they refuse to heed the instructions of a government official.

Ocampo said that for as long as the present societal structure remains, attacks on journalists would continue. He said that a few elite who controls the wealth of the nation and dominates local politics would never allow their wrongdoings to be exposed.

Ocampo said the country needs a free and assertive press.

Paraan called on fellow journalists to remain vigilant and to continue to defend press freedom.(

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