Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Commentary: Southern Tagalog under a State of Impunity

(Source: http://www.youtube.com/ To see how you can
help, click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/27emtm8)

By Lulu Dumlao

At the rate of the number of journalists being killed, the Philippines is living up to the International Federation of Journalists’ label description of this country as being the “most dangerous place for journalists to practice.” According the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the regime of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo turns out to be the worst years of journalists’ assassination in the Philippines. 100 cases of media killings were recorded under Arroyo’s administration—the largest number since President Aquino’s government. Most of these killings are attributed to the military counterinsurgency programs approved also during Arroyo’s time.

Freedom of expression is curtailed because of media killings. The usual targets of elimination are the journalists who dare to speak out about the abuses in our country.

Southern Tagalog: Region under Blockade

From 2001-2009, there have been 10 reported cases of media killings in Southern Tagalog. Most of these cases were either dismissed or neglected by the administration. Instead of giving assistance to the families who are seeking justice, the government seemingly ignores these alarming extrajudicial killings.

On May 2003, Lucena City, Apolinario Pobeda was shot dead by two unidentified men riding a motorcycle. Pobeda was also riding his motorcycle, on his way to work, when the two suspects flagged him. He was shot four times and was dead on arrival in the hospital. The two gunmen were arrested and detained. Until now Pobeda’s case is still being heard in Quezon.

Pobeda was an alleged member of the New People’s Army and a regular commentator at the local radio station in Lucena City, DWTI-AM. His family and friends think that his death was lead by his fearless commentaries against alleged corrupt government officials.

Another case was Dong Batul’s. Batul is a commentator of DYPR at Puerto Prinsesa, Palawan. He was known for his hard-hitting commentaries that tackled corruption of government officials in the province. On April 2006, Batul saw two dud grenades outside his house. Also, a death threat written in red ink warning him to "hold his tongue or else his family would suffer harsh consequences." Barely a month after that incident, Batul was gunned by unidentified gunmen who fled on a blue motorcycle. Batul was hit 12 times and was dead on arrival at the hospital.

An Aaron Golifrado was identified by four witnesses as Batul’s killer. He was apprehended by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Golifrado is a member of a police counterinsurgency program in Palawan. But despite the charge filed against him, Golifrado stayed active in the force. And the case against him? It was granted dismissal.

The trend of media killings in Southern Tagalog, or even in the whole country is apparent. Journalists who expose the power abuses of government officials were killed. Their cases were not thoroughly investigated and usually, get dismissed. The victims’ families continue on seeking for justice, but it seems like it will never be on their reach.

Press Freedom under Siege

The Philippines has become one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Asia. Why? This can be deeply rooted to the fact that journalists in the Philippines are not scared to expose the abuse of power of those individuals who hold it. Journalists are silenced by influential individuals who know that with media men writing and reporting about their unlawful activities they will taste their downfall. Journalism in the Philippines is a powerful tool used in exposing the wrongdoings of these influential and powerful people. Journalists carry the power to uncover the transgressions of these individuals. The people who hold power are afraid to get caught red handed. They might get condemned by the citizens. They might lose their power. And to keep their grip onto the power, they annihilate whoever comes their way.

(Lulu Dumlao is a freelance writer. She is currently enrolled at the BS Development Communication program, Major in Development Journalism at the University of the Philippines at Los Baños.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

The Diary Archive