Last Tuesday, September 16, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III delivered a policy speech at Brussels, Belgium. Included in his speech was his claim that the administration has already taken steps on human rights violations in the country.
“We have instituted a task force whose primary mission is to take cognizance of all of these extrajudicial killings or alleged extrajudicial killings with the end in view of arresting every culprit regardless of whether it was a media individual, an activist, or any other individual,” the President said.
However, the President contradicted himself when he claimed that not all media killings are work-related. Based on his statement, it is evident that the President does not recognize and address the human right s violations and extra judicial killings on journalists.
From the past five State of the Nation Address (SONA) of the President, no concrete plans regarding the Ampatuan Massacre, the worst single attack on media in history, and steps regarding other extra judicial killings on journalists were laid down, given that under his administration, 27 journalists have already been killed. Instead, the President bombarded the Filipino people with reports on infrastructure development and globalization, leaving the blood trails of human rights violations victims behind.
Going back to another speech delivered by the President on April, he claimed that the number of victims of the Ampatuan Massacre was “something like 52”, whereas the total number of victims is 58, in which 32 of them are media workers. How can the President himself mess up with the numbers of one of the most heinous crimes in the Philippine history?
Philippines was branded as the second most dangerous place for journalists. It is saddening that the President himself does not find this alarming and giving justice to all journalist victims and all other victims of human right violations seem to be least in his priorities. The fact that we are regarded as a dangerous place for journalist is a reflection of a press held tightly in the neck, where censorship is what the public really reads in the newspapers, sees in the television and hears in the radio. It is also a reflection of a commercialized news, all in favor with those in power. Those who strive for a free press, fulfill the responsibility to seek the truth and struggle for a genuine press freedom and national democracy are captured, tortured, imprisoned, and worse—murdered or disappeared.
Although the President stressed out that Filipino journalists are free to criticize government officials and those in power, the number of victims of human rights violations are undeniable. Also, since 2010, 204 activists were murdered, 208 were imprisoned and 21 were missing.
UPLB Perspective, as an official student publication of the premier state university of the country, is one with the struggle for a pro-student university and a pro-people government. We give the highest condemnation to all human rights violations and thus, condemn the Aquino government for negligence and impunity on extra judicial killings and all forms of human rights violations. With this, we give the highest respect to all journalists all over the world and we would continue to struggle for societal justice.
Looking at a bird’s eye view, isn’t it the administration’s obligation to put end to these killings? Yet, what the administration only does is justify these.
In this kind of administration, it is indeed fearful to be a journalist. We are told that there is no story worth our lives and that we should always strive to live one more day to give more stories. But, to choose journalism is to choose not a career but a duty, to serve the people, whatever the cost is. [P]