EDITORIAL - Continuing impunity
(The Philippine Star) - June 10, 2018 - 12:00am

Another day, another journalist killed. Dennis Denora, publisher and reporter of the weekly community newspaper Trends and Times, was fatally shot in his car on Thursday afternoon in Panabo City, Davao del Norte by men on a motorcycle. His driver, Mayonito Rivera, was wounded.

Denora’s colleagues say he had a run-in with a ranking government official prior to the attack. As in previous murders, the only way to unearth the truth is to catch the killers – the gunmen on the motorcycle, and whoever might have ordered the hit.

The administration itself should want the murder solved. Denora’s murder comes just over a month after broadcaster Edmund Sestoso was shot dead in Dumaguete City. Whether or not Sestoso’s killing was work-related, such attacks indicate a breakdown of peace and order, and a weakness in carrying out the anti-crime campaign, which is a top priority of the Duterte administration.

Regardless of the motive, murderers must be caught and brought to justice. The Philippines ranks fifth in the latest Impunity Index drawn up by the Committee to Protect Journalists, not only because of the high number of media workers killed but also because of the failure to catch and punish those responsible. Sestoso’s murder remains unsolved.

Besides intensifying crime solution, the government must enhance crime prevention measures. One way is to ban the use of tinted face shields on motorcycle helmets. All over the country, the motorcycle has become the killer’s getaway vehicle of choice, with tinted face shields ensuring anonymity. 

Helmets with transparent face shields are now widely available on the market. Requiring their use can be enforced with some ease because police now regularly set up mobile checkpoints, with special focus on motorcycles with two passengers.

A bigger challenge is intensifying the campaign against loose firearms. It is too easy to obtain a gun in this country and to use it for illegal purposes, with criminals believing they can get away with anything. Dennis Denora’s murder should not become just the latest statistic in the Impunity Index.

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