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NUJP to Cayetano: Counting drug-related killings part of media’s duty

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano criticized the media for coming up with “kill lists” or tally of drug-related killings. Philstar.com/File photo

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) slammed Senator Alan Peter Cayetano for accusing the media of blowing up the number of drug-related killings.

“Cayetano protested too much when he insinuates that media have been blowing up the rash of killings that have accompanied the Duterte administration’s war on drugs or worse, are embarked on a campaign to tar the present dispensation,” said NUJP chairman Ryan Rosauro in a statement.

During a Senate inquiry on Monday, Cayetano criticized two media outfits for coming up with “kill lists.”

The NUJP said that the senator’s allegations have been dispelled by Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa who showed statistics on drug-related deaths.

Citing Dela Rosa’s report, the NUJP said the number of killings since July 1 had reached 1,779; 712 of which in police operations. Deaths outside of police operations or allegedly committed by vigilantes had climbed to 1,067 from 899 in a weeks’ time.

“What would Mr. Cayetano have the media do, play blind as the bodies pile up and go along with the canard to declare all who have died, including the innocent -- and yes, there have been innocents -- guilty as alleged and, thus, deserving of their fate sans due process as our laws and the very principle of rule of law that this administration wishes, and rightly so, to restore?,” said Rosauro.

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"Sadly, like Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre before him, Mr. Cayetano also irresponsibly raises the claim, without proffering an iota of evidence, that media are among those being bought off with drug money supposedly to discredit the administration," he added.

The NUJP chairman said Cayetano's claims put the lives of journalists at risks, adding that more than 170 journalists have been killed in the country since 1986.

Rosauro added that they also desire to rid crime and drugs.

“This, we do not doubt, is the fervent wish of all Filipinos, regardless of where they stand on the issue of the war on drugs and on how this should be carried out. But we do mind it when his zeal drives him to spout careless and baseless accusations that endanger not only us but others as well,” he said. 

The NUJP urged journalists to continue documenting the “twists and turns of the war on drugs.”

“That may take us to counting, or more importantly, explaining the  context of the daily piling up of deaths,” Rosauro said.

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