The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Godofredo Linao’s killing shows police and government investigators are falling behind their promises to prosecute such killings.
“Godofredo Linao has become the latest victim in a string of recent journalist slayings in the Philippines this year. Police and government investigators are falling badly behind their stated intentions to prosecute these crimes,” said CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney.
CPJ said Mindanao police must investigate the motive for the killing of Linao and pursue those responsible for it.
At least two unidentified men shot Linao in the back near the offices of Radyo Natin, where he worked as a commentator, in Surigao del Sur province.
Radyo Natin manager Mario Alviso said Linao had been summoned to Barabo town via a text message around 1 a.m. Monday.
Linao was about to board his motorcycle when the men fired at him four times, killing him on the spot, CPJ cited initial reports as saying.
Police said the motive for the attack was unclear as Linao also worked as a political spokesman, according to local and international reports.
Alviso said the commentator may have been targeted for his political broadcasts.
Task Force 211
Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor, who chairs an agency looking into journalist murders, told CPJ in May that his group, Task Force 211, was committed to the “investigation, prosecution, and immediate resolution of media killings.”
On the other hand, CPJ noted the Philippines placed sixth on its 2009 Impunity Index, which ranks countries that fail to prosecute cases of journalists killed for their work.
“Four journalists were killed in the Philippines in June alone. Three of those were targeted for murder; CPJ has not confirmed the motive in those cases. A fourth was killed in crossfire. CPJ’s Global Campaign Against Impunity seeks justice in journalist murders in cooperation with local partners in the Philippines,” CPJ said.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will leave a legacy of bloodshed and repression on Philippine media.
“For the Philippine media, the Arroyo administration will be remembered for a legacy of bloodshed and repression, its acts of omission and commission nurturing the impunity with which the enemies of press freedom have operated,” NUJP said in a statement on its website.
It added that by the time Mrs. Arroyo steps down, her watch will have seen a death toll accounting for more than 60 percent of the journalists murdered since the supposed democratic restoration of 1986.
This was “almost twice” that under the 14-year Marcos dictatorship, NUJP said.
“Only in three cases have we seen convictions under her term, but only of the gunmen, none of the masterminds,” it added.
On the other hand, the NUJP said no administration has shown such open contempt and hostility toward media or been so cavalier with the constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and of expression.
It cited then Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez’s quip that most of the slain journalists were either womanizers or involved in drunken revelry.
Also, it noted First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo’s making the then dying Dipolog broadcaster Klein Cantoneros an example of what befalls supposedly irresponsible media practitioners during a speech before the Negros Press Club.
The NUJP also said no government since the Marcos dictatorship has attempted a wholesale clampdown on the media as Mrs. Arroyo’s did during a he short-lived state of national emergency she declared in 2006.
“Not only did her storm troopers raid the (Daily) Tribune (newspaper in Manila) and tramp threateningly through the parking lots of the two major broadcast networks, (then) Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo even had the temerity to threaten the takeover of a network that was interviewing live because it had allowed a military mutineer to say his piece,” the NUJP said.
Manila Pen siege
It also recalled the Manila Peninsula Hotel siege in Makati City in November 2007, where some 50 journalists were marched off to a police camp in the aftermath of the incident.
At the time, detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and his followers laid siege on the hotel.
The latest incident involved the brief detention of some 50 journalists covering the humanitarian crisis in central Mindanao by Army soldiers in Maguindanao province.
Also, the NUJP said it was under the Arroyo administration that security forces have openly branded media organizations as “enemies of the state.”
It said the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines did it in its infamous “Knowing the Enemy” PowerPoint presentation in 2005, and the Army’s 10th Infantry Division did it with its recently discovered order of battle.
The NUJP also stressed that despite the military’s assurances it will pull the “Knowing the Enemy” presentation, it has continued showing it in schools and urban poor communities in Metro Manila.
NUJP added Mrs. Arroyo did not lift a hand when her husband wielded the antiquated libel law like a bludgeon, filing multiple suits against 46 journalists “in what was a clear abuse of his powers and privileges.”
It said Mrs. Arroyo neither reined in House Speaker Prospero Nograles from using the same law to torment broadcaster Alex Adonis.
“Neither has she shown any inclination to exercise her influence over her congressional allies to stop them from further pushing the right of reply bill, which would place control of media content in the hands of politicians hungry for power and fame,” it said.
“This administration’s animosity toward freedom of the press and of free expression takes other forms as well, such as the censorship and prior restraint exercised by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board in requiring public affairs programs to submit their tapes for review before these can be aired, or slapping ‘X’ ratings on films critical of government,” NUJP said.
Improve working, living conditions
It also said that under the Arroyo administration, no measure has been passed to improve the living and working conditions of journalists and media workers.
Most of them suffer low wages and lack of job security and benefits amid the growing risks of attacks and killings, especially in the provinces, it noted.
“If the Philippine media remain free, it is no thanks to this administration’s lip service professions of respect for the freedoms of the press and free expression but rather to the tenacity with which Filipino journalists have resisted all attempts to cow them into submission and silence,” it said.
“It is a tenacity that will see the independent Philippine media remain so on the very day Arroyo steps down from power and beyond,” it added. – GMANews.TV