Press group holds State of Media Affairs-A A +A
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
ANGELES CITY -- Re-pressed freedoms is how the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) describes the state of the media affairs (Soma) in the country these days as President Benigno
Aquino III delivered his third State of the Nation address (Sona) for 2012 on Monday.
The NUJP’s Soma was also in time with all its chapters’ nationwide, to include NUJP Pampanga’s commemoration of the 32nd month of the Ampatuan Massacre which happened in November 23, 2009 that killed 32 media workers and 26 civilians.
The statement expressed that as every murder of an activist, a journalist, a lawyer, a farmer, a priest, an NGO worker are allowed to remain unsolved, it spawns another, and those who seek to stifle the people’s voices are emboldened by the knowledge they can get away with it. Thirteen media workers have been killed under this administration.
Nestor Burgos Jr., NUJP chairperson said in the statement that, “just as other presidents before Aquino, he has shown apathy to the murder of members of the Fourth Estate, not even deigning to issue an unequivocal order to end the killings and solve all previous cases.
Burgos added that: “the invariable response to the murders has been the setting up of task forces that are basically useless, coupled with harebrained suggestions to let journalists arm themselves, an admission that the state and its security forces are unable, or unwilling, to offer protection.”
Meanwhile, Ashley Jay Manabat, chairperson of NUJP Pampanga, said that that there is no indication that the killing of journalists is government policy, but it may well be, given how often Mr. Aquino whines and close to demonizing media for performing their duty of being the watchdog against official abuse, thus emboldening those who would silence the press.
Manabat said that Aquino’s election pledge of transparency in government is countered by his insistence that only his version of the Freedom of Information bill will do. While the bill remains in legislative limbo in the House of Representatives so firmly in his control, he willed them into railroading the impeachment of the discredited former Chief Justice.
Manabat also said that the same legislative house refuses to decriminalize libel, perhaps because many of its members are loathe to let go of a weapon they have wielded again and again to intimidate critics, notwithstanding that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has decreed criminal libel in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Manabat added that even in deliberating legislation that seeks to protect citizens’ rights, such as the Data Piracy Act, the administration controlled legislature provides harsh punishment for journalists simply doing their job.
He also said Mr. Aquino is right in insisting that the government should not be blamed for everything, as the media aside from having to contend with a government that is generally apathetic to the continued attacks and threats against the Philippine press, media workers also have to cope with a work environment that is not only increasingly hostile to their welfare and security but also erodes the very precepts of their profession.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 24, 2012.