MANILA - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) slammed President Benigno Aquino III for his diplomatic faux pas during his joint press conference with US President Barack Obama earlier this week.
When asked why 26 journalists died under his watch, Aquino said an interagency committee is investigating extralegal killings.
He mentioned, however, about the Maguindanao massacre case but incorrectly stated details and facts around the single deadliest attack on media.
He also went on to explain the lack of progress in solving media killings by saying “we do not reveal the discoveries by our intelligence agencies and security services. Perhaps we are very sensitive to personal relationships by the people who are deceased who were killed not because of professional activities, but, shall we say, other issues.”
IFJ acting Asia Pacific Director Jane Worthington said the Maguindanao massacre "has become the centerpiece case for the international struggle against impunity and those killed are honored annually on the anniversary on November 23."
"The fact that the Philippine president cannot get the facts right on this very significant case, which has been campaigned on heavily during his watch, is beyond comprehension."
The IFJ counts as it member the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
NUJP Chairperson Rowena C. Paraan earlier said: “President Benigno Aquino III's reply clearly illustrates how much our leader really cares about media murders and extrajudicial killings in general -- zilch."
Worthington agreed, noting also that Aquino inferred that the murders were deserved.
"The fact is this government has so far failed to bring the killers and masterminds of the massacre to justice. Any critique would be best directed inward to the state which was supposed to be responsible for protecting journalists under its human rights obligations and further to securing justice for victims. To date, it has failed on both counts," she said.
She urged the government to act against an environment that sows fear and intimidation in journalists.
"It is President Aquino’s responsibility to ensure that journalists in his country are free and able to go about their work without fear of retribution,” she said.