Editorial: Unbelieving

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013


SO, ANOTHER radio commentator was shot dead, this time in Valencia City, Bukidnon last Friday, November 29.

So, it took us four days before we can even speak up and condemn the killing.

Right after receiving the news of the murder of dxGT radio station’s commentator Joash Dignos Friday night, there was this indignation. But putting this indignation to words took time, a long time.

The reason: Dignos’ death came just days after Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. of the Presidential Communications Operation Office belittled the figures of slain media workers on the 4th anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre during which he was quoted as saying in a press briefing as: "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."

Coloma was trying to downplay the numbers after the Committee to Protect Journalist’ Impunity Index ranked the Philippines as the third deadliest country for media workers for 2013.

"'Yung kanilang batayan ay parang index of journalism or media-related crimes kasama 'yung Maguindanao [massacre] na napakarami talagang napaslang doon," Coloma was quoted by the Philippine Star as saying in the press briefing. At least 32 media workers were confirmed killed in the infamous massacre, another one remains missing but believed dead as well.

Such nonchalant way of addressing killings in one industry alone can send us blubbering in consternation; words become difficult to come by as all we can do is wail in disgust. That’s what happened when we heard the news about Dignos’ murder. We could only blubber.

Bukidnon, while a quiet, rustic province, isn’t really quite safe for journalists.

As reported by Sun.Star, Dignos earned the ire of Mayor Jose M. Galario Jr., who ordered the closure of Valencia City-based dxVR, one of RMN’s stations in 2006.

Dignos was quoted in reports to have vowed to file administrative charges against Galario for allegedly threatening to kill him.

In 2003, Galario also ordered the padlocking of dxMV.

On June 26, 2013, an explosion rocked radio station dxGT that wounded a 21-year-old working student.

Two men riding a motorcycle lobbed a grenade at dxGT while a replay of Dignos' recorded program was playing.

DxGT Radyo Abante is an affiliate of the Iddes Broadcast Group Inc.

Earlier, Cocoy Medina, dxGT program director, told NUJP that Dignos had been taping his program at that time since he started receiving death threats on his cellphone.

This rustic, quiet province is not as quiet as we believe it to be, and that is just Bukidnon. On the legislative side, congressmen and senators would still want to water down the Freedom of Information Bill that might just include a Right-to-Reply clause, and are very quiet about the onerous provisions in the Anti-cybercrime Law. All suspicious insertions and watering down attempts are seemingly focused on muzzling journalists and access to appropriate information.

How then can we quickly voice out condemnation after yet another media worker is murdered when we know we are being set up for worse things to come?

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 04, 2013.

Opinion

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