Malacañang: We will put an end to attacks on journalists
MANILA, Philippines – On the 10th anniversary of the 2009 Ampatuan massacre, or the deadliest attack on journalists in the Philippines, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the Duterte administration "will work to prevent and put an end to attacks on journalists."
This is Malacañang's promise amid unprecedented data of media attacks under the Duterte administration, with 128 attacks on the press from June 30, 2016 up to April 30, 2019, according to the Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network.
Of this number, 12 are cases of killings.
"We will work to prevent and put an end to attacks on journalists, who are simply fulfilling their obligations to disseminate truth and information to the public. In cases where they are harmed or killed, we will aim to deliver swift justice and make the perpetrators answer to the law," Andanar said in a statement on Saturday, November 23.
Andanar cited the work of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), whose Executive Director, Undersecretary Joel Egco, was in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Saturday to commemorate the 10th anniversary.
"The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) will continue to perform their duties so that instances where brutal killings such as that in the Maguindanao Massacre, will not go unpunished for years or more so will never happen at all," said Andanar.
Also the worst election-related violence in Philippine history, the 2009 massacre killed 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists who covered the filing of candidacy of then Maguindanao governor aspirant Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu.
After 10 years of trial, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court is expected to hand down its verdict on or before December 20 on 101 individuals, including the 3 principal accused – Andal Jr, Zaldy and Sajid Ampatuan.
In a separate statement, Senator Francis Pangilinan said that the lack of accountability over the massacre emboldened the killers of the thousands who died in Duterte's war on drugs.
"The thousands of suspected drug users and pushers murdered in various police operations are new testament to the chronic impunity in the country. The chilling effect hounds us all,” said Pangilinan.
Pangilinan added: “We exhort the courts to speed up the cases against the victims. Justice for the victims and their families through rightful conviction will bring a flicker of hope to the other victims of killings, including those in the so-called drug war." – Rappler.com