By RONALYN V. OLEA
With the death of another media man in Davao del Sur, media groups called on incoming President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to end the killings of journalists.
Nestor Bedolido, a reporter of the local weekly Kastigador, was shot six times at past 7 p.m. on June 19 by a lone gunman while buying cigarettes at a variety store in Digos City, Davao del Sur, the NUJP reported.?
The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Chief Inspector Anthony Padua in its news report saying that the suspect walked toward a waiting motorcycle driven by another unidentified man after shooting Bedolido. Padua said bystanders rushed Bedolido to the hospital but he died on arrival.
Bedolido, who was known to be critical of Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas, was the third journalist to be killed in six days. Bedolido’s murder happened just five days after the killing of Joselito Agustin of dzJC Aksyon Radyo in Laoag City and Desidario Camangyan of Mati City.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said that 103 journalists have been killed under the Arroyo administration alone and 140 since 1986, when democracy was supposedly restored?.
“Ending the killings of journalists and resolving past cases will be a litmus test of how seriously Benigno Aquino III considers his promise of good governance,” the NUJP said.
The NUJP said that “all these media murders are as much a matter of state accountability as the human rights violations committed during the long years of the dictatorship or the nine years in power of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” The group added that the Arroyo government, by its failure and refusal to hold accountable those responsible for the killings, makes it equally guilty and an accomplice to the bloodbath.
The NUJP called on Aquino to hold Arroyo accountable for the “massive loss of lives.”
“If Aquino is really against corruption, he must ensure the prosecution of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has been involved in so many issues of corruption that have aggravated the killings of journalists and activists in the country,” College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) national president Trina Federis said in a separate statement. The CEGP is an alliance of tertiary student publications.
Federis noted that most of the journalists killed were vocal critics of corrupt government officials. “Journalists are important, especially if Aquino is pushing a reform agenda anchored on his anti-corruption campaign,” Federis said.
“The business of ensuring justice for all victims weighs just as heavy on Aquino as head of state as it should on all those whose sworn duty it is to protect and ensure the life and welfare of all citizens but which, sadly, they still have to do so,” the NUJP added.
In a separate statement, international press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders also said that combating impunity and violence against the media must be a priority for Aquino.
“Post-electoral violence against the media is not new, but these two murders in close succession are alarming. We call on the police and judicial authorities to assign additional personnel to the investigations and, in both cases, to seriously examine the possibility that the motive was linked to the victim’s work as a journalist,” the Reporters Without Borders said. (Bulatlat.com)