Malacanang has condemned on Wednesday the statement of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on the possible cause of media killings in the Philippines during a press conference in Davao City.
In a statement released by the Palace, Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that it is deploring the idea of journalists being “assaulted or killed in view of their alleged involvement in media corruption,” a response on Duterte’s recent remark.
“We recognize the vital role played by journalists as purveyors of information in a democratic society. As citizens, they have a fundamental right to due process and equal protection of the laws of the land,” Coloma added.
Coloma also stressed the government position on the issue of widespread killings, reiterating that “it is the duty of government to arrest, prosecute and punish those responsible for violence against members of the media.”
2016 presidential election winner Duterte yesterday said that there would be no exemption to journalists from being murder. According to the incoming President, if a media person is a son of a *****, he or she should not be excused from being assassinated.
“Just because you are a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination if you are a son of a bitch,” the Davao leader said when asked on how his administration will curb widespread media killings in the country.
Duterte said that journalists who were murdered are corrupt and bribe-accepting people. “Karamihan ‘yan, alam mo ‘yan nabigyan na. Or tumatanggap na sa mga sugarol tapos bira pa rin.”
The newly-proclaimed President reiterated that the constitutional freedom of people in media does not spare them from violence. He told that freedom of expression cannot be an excuse to the person whom a journalist has hardly hit on.
The camp of Duterte, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that the former Davao City Mayor remarks on media killings has taken out of context anew.
According to Duterte’s transition team spokesperson Peter Laviña in a statement, the President’s statement has once again misinterpreted and misunderstood.
Laviña cleared that Duterte’s comments were based on his personal observation not in the entire Philippines but only in Davao where some media personalities have been killed, including Jun Pala, who was known as a staunch critic.
The spokesperson of the Mayor further revealed that the latter said that he will be creating a task force who will solve the issue of imprudent killings of journalists.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) expressed yesterday their disappointment with Duterte’s take on media killings. The group even called it appalling that incoming President seems to be defending the killing of media.
A Human Rights Violation
The pressing matter involving the inhumane and relentless killing of the people in media has put a black stain in the country’s reputation, most especially when the Maguindanao Massacre occurred in November 23, 2009, killing 32 journalists in Maguindanao province in the semi-autonomous Muslim region, Mindanao, along with 25 other civilians.
However, it must be noted that it was not only that one occasion that the media killings in the country alarmed the people, there is a consistent and relentless media killing in the country. In the present administration alone, there are 26 recorded journos killed and a record of 77 deaths since 1992 according to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
These killings are often linked to politics especially in the local or provincial level. In the Southern part of the country, where private militia still subsists it must be noted that these attacks on media are often committed by said private armed groups in order to silence reporters who are investigating them. These murders usually go unpunished.
While there might be no authoritarian gripping at the necks of the media institutions, the media industry can never truly prosper with its hard working men fearing the very profession they pursue and hiding at every dark shadow for the threats that their journey to seek the truth delivers them to.