Palace: Without Maguindanao Massacre, media killings in Phl 'not so serious'

Louis Bacani (The Philippine Star) - November 22, 2013 - 3:42pm

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has been considered as among the dangerous places for journalists due to the Maguindanao massacre, but take this away, the problem of media killings in the country seems to be "not so serious," a Palace official said Friday.

In a press briefing, Communications Sec. Sonny Coloma downplayed the Committee to Protect Journalists' Impunity Index which ranked the Philippines as the third deadliest country for media practitioners for 2013.

"'Yung kanilang batayan ay parang index of journalism or media-related crimes kasama 'yung Maguindanao [massacre] na napakarami talagang napaslang doon," Coloma said.

"Kung ihihiwalay naman yung Maguindanao figures, hindi naman talaga tayo 'yung lalabas na [most dangerous place for journalists]. Hindi naman ganun kaseryoso o kalala 'yung problemang 'yun," he added.

Coloma claimed that the Philippines is still among the countries that enjoy press freedom the most.

The Cabinet official also brushed off claims that compared to past administrations, more media practotioners were slain during President Aquino's term.

He said that for a number of those killed under the present administration, it was not validated if they are bonafide media practitioners.

Coloma said individuals related to the media profession who were recently killed were not actually directly involved in the newsmaking process. He said among the latest fatalities include a television network driver, a radio block-timer who promotes commercial products and two journalists from a "fly-by-night" newspaper.

Nonetheless, the Palace official assured that those behind these killings will be held accountable and that justice will be given to the victims.

"Whether media killing or not, krimen po 'yung killing. At tungkulin ng estado na pangalagaan ang buhay," Coloma said.

"Bawat buhay ng Pilipino ay mahalaga so that in the final analysis... dapat lutasin ang pagpaslang ng mga mamamayan," he added.

Maguindanao massacre victims 'betrayed'

Coloma denied that the President betrayed the victims of Maguindanao massacre for allegedly failing to deliver justice to them.

He said the Aquino administration was never remiss in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the gruesome killings.

"Hindi naman po nagkulang ang Aquino administration sa pagtugon doon sa mga bagay na kayang aksyunan nito," he said.

Read: Maguindanao massacre victims' kin feel betrayed by PNoy

However, he admitted that the Palace is not contented with the slow pace of the cases.

Coloma said the government is determined to erase the "stigma of the culture of impunity" that led to the heinous crime.

"We join the Filipino people in affirming our solidarity with the families of those who lost their lives in the Maguindanao Massacre on November 23, 2009," he said in a statement.

The Cabinet official said the Philippine National Police has been directed to intensify efforts to arrest some 88 suspects still at large while the Department of Justice, is strengthening its investigative and prosecutorial arms.

Coloma said the Palace is also calling for amendments to the rules of court that will speed up the justice system.

The administration will also work with Congress to prioritize action on the enactment of the proposed Whistle Blower Bill and amendments to strengthen the Witness Protection Law, according to Coloma.

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