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EDITORIAL - Another day, another media murder

There was no word yesterday on the pursuit of the gunmen who murdered a radio commentator last Friday night in Bukidnon. Joas Dignos was standing along a busy highway in Valencia town when two men pulled up on a motorcycle and opened fire. Dignos died at the scene.

Probers are still trying to determine if the murder was connected to Dignos’ work as a “block time” radio commentator of dxGT Radyo Abante in Maramag town. Last June, a grenade blast at the station injured a utility man. That attack, staged while the station was airing Dignos’ taped commentary, has not been solved. Colleagues said Dignos had been recording his commentaries since he started receiving death threats.

There are journalists particularly in Metro Manila who shrug off death threats in the belief that as long as someone is making the threat, no actual attack is forthcoming. In many parts of the country, however, death threats tend to be carried out, and often successfully. Journalist groups count 19 media workers killed so far under President Aquino’s watch.

Most of the murders are open cases. It has often been pointed out that the failure to bring murderers to justice is the biggest reason for the culture of impunity that prevails all over the country. Many of the suspected brains behind the killings of journalists are individuals who wield influence over those tasked to pursue murderers and give justice to the victims. Local political kingpins, military and police officials, and even gambling and drug barons can get away with murder.

Dignos was killed barely a week after the nation marked the fourth anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, wherein 38 media workers were among the victims. That atrocity should have strengthened the resolve of concerned authorities to catch those behind other media killings. The massacre case, however, is crawling along at the usual agonizingly slow pace in the judicial system. The case is just the worst reminder that in this country, those who permanently silence the bearers of bad news tend to get away with it.


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