SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan yesterday urged the different sectors of society to help in ending impunity in killing of and other abuses against media workers in the Philippines.
Pangilinan made the statement during the celebration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists yesterday.
“On International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, let's renew our dedication to promote a free, independent, and responsible media and push for accountability for those who would undermine this pillar of democracy,” part of Pangilinan’s statement read.
The senator said that Philippine media personnel’s brand of work deeply affects people’s lives for they risk personal safety just to report on issues that matter.
He stressed that journalists bare to the public abuses, corruption, and inefficiency, but in return they receive threats, harassment, legal cases and, worse, even death.
“But we cannot imagine a world without journalists. They play an indispensable role in the healthy functioning of our democracy,” Pangilinan said on the necessity to have a free and vibrant media society in the country.
“Together, let's continue working to eliminate impunity against media professionals,” he added.
Earlier, a 2018 report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) showed that the Philippines ranked fifth among the countries with the worst records of prosecuting killers of journalists.
From 2011 to 2014, the Philippines ranked 3rd in the list before moving down to 4th in 2015 and 2016. Last year the country moved down to 5th place.
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTOMS) earlier said that they expected landing on the fifth rank despite efforts by the government to investigate and solve media cases. They said that the Maguindanao massacre that left 58 persons including 32 journalists dead affected the country’s ranking.
Press Freedom Day
Senators Bam Aquino and Sherwin Gatchalian has proposed to use the birth date of national hero Marcelo H. Del Pilar to be the “National Responsible Press Freedom Day” to show that the country recognizes and respects freedom of the press as mandated in the Constitution.
In their proposed bills, Aquino and Gatchalian both said that it is only fitting to choose the birth date of De Pilar in the observation of press freedom in the country since he is the so-called “Father of Philippine Journalism.”
Aquino and Gatchalian, in filing Senate Bill Nos. 2040 and 2042, respectively, were in unison in recognizing Del Pilar as the embodiment of press freedom in the country.
On Friday, Gatchalian stressed that the constitutionally-guaranteed provision on press freedom in Section 4, Article 3 of the Bill of Rights, not only includes the right to speak and write but also the right to be protected from threats, intimidation, and violence.
“If favorably passed into law, it will remind us of the patriotic deeds of Del Pilar and inspire people to emulate his example of selfless service, exceptional courage and leadership that gave hope to our Motherland during a critical time in our country’s history,” Gatchalian said.
For his part, Aquino said such declaration will serve as a “reminder for all of us that in times of repression, one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal is our voice, as proven by his example.”
“A fearless, free and objective press is especially important during these times fraught with alternative facts and misinformation,” Aquino said.