Cordillera: Gruesome killing of journalist
On the eve of the commemoration of International Human Rights Day, journalists belonging the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. who signed up for the effort, will step out of their newsrooms or beats to launch a 15-minute noise barrage, give eulogies for the fallen journalists in the country and say prayers.
Inday Espina Varona, national chairperson of the NUJP, said a pooled editorial was also prepared for the Dec. 9 issues of newspapers, radios and news television programs.
Varona, editor-in-chief of the Philippine Graphic, said that a two-minute simultaneous nationwide silence will be observed by radio stations nationwide at exactly 3 p.m. is also being arranged to be followed by the reading of the pooled editorial.
"On the eve of the commemoration of the International Day of Human Rights, Filipino print, radio, television and web-based media practitioners join the lament of all compatriots whose rights have been violated in what is supposed to be one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies," the editorial in part read.
The initial idea for the concerted action, said Varona, came from Jose Pavia, a veteran journalist and executive director of the Philippine Press Institute (PPI).
The plan, she said, was further firmed up during the Luzon-wide Media and Governance workshop spearheaded by the Center for Community Journalism Development.
It is supported by the PPI, the Kapisanan ng Mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the Center for Community Journalism Development, the Philippine Center for Photojournalism, the Press Photographers of the Philippines and the National Press Club.
Varona disclosed that aside from national press organizations, local chapters and regional and provincial press clubs are also enjoined to become part of the concerted action and to sign up for the pooled statement.
The pooled editorial also raises the issue of the murder of judges, lawyers, anti-corruption advocates and human rights workers nationwide.
"Every murder of a journalist, or a judge, an environmentalist, an anti-corruption activist, a human rights worker — democracy dies a little. As our nation grapples with crisis, and powerful groups jockey to control big chunks of our economy and body politic, many among our citizens, journalists among them, become casualties of events. It is time Filipinos raise their voices against the violence that stalks our land," the pooled editorial added.
Meanwhile, even the United Nations has expressed alarm over the spate of killings of Filipino journalists.
In a statement, Koichiro Matsuura, director general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), said that he was appalled by the manner Stephen Omais of the Cordillera-based community newspaper, Guru Press, was killed.
Omais’ lifeless body was found in a garbage bin in Tabuk town, Kalinga and bore signs of torture.
At the time of his death, he was reportedly investigating a government public works project in Kalinga, for which he and his colleagues allegedly received death threats.
Omais was the 13th journalist in the country to be slain this year and the 61st since democracy was restored in 1986.