Aquino: Gov't addressing media killings

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday, April 28, reiterated his assurance that his administration is addressing the problem of media killings in the country.

Aquino gave the assurance in response to a question at a joint press conference with US President Barack Obama who began a two-day state visit to the Philippines Monday.

“May we just state for the record that even when it comes to journalists, it is not a policy of this state to silence critics," Aquino said. "All you have to do will be to turn on the TV, the radio or look at any newspaper to find an abundance of criticism."

The President was asked by a member of the US media about what he was doing to address media killings during his administration, said to number 26 of which suspects in only 6 cases have been arrested.

Aquino cited the Maguindanao massacre case, where 52 journalists had been killed, noting that over a hundred people have been indicted for the crime and undergoing trial.

Aquino also said that he had set up an inter-agency committee to look into all cases if extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of right to life, liberty and security of persons. 

He said that of the 62 suspected cases of extrajudicial killings, only 10 were determined to fall under that category, and of this number, only one happened under his term.

“Now, having said that, investigations have been done. Anybody who has been killed obviously is a victim and investigations have been ongoing,” he said.

Aquino also said his campaign promise of judicial reform continues to be a “work in progress.”

“We want to protect all of the rights of every individual but also ensure that the speedy portion of the promise also happens. Unfortunately, speed is not a hallmark of our current judicial system and there are various steps – laws, amendments of particular laws, even a rethink of the whole process – to ensure this speedy disposition of justice,” he said. –