MANILA, Philippines - The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday said President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III must put a stop to the government's policy of "nurturing warlords" if it wants to stop media killings in the country.
"The government should end this culture of impunity. Make sure the warlords and their private armies are dismantled," Nonoy Espina, vice-chairman of the NUJP, told ANC's Dateline Philippines.
Espina said the number of media killings has continuously grown over the years because "government after government after government has nurtured warlords, allowed them to grow so strong that they practically ruled their provinces and towns like their personal kingdoms."
He said the strongest example of the result of nurtured warlords was the gruesome killing of 57 people in Maguindanao province last Nov. 23, 2009. Among the massacre victims were at least 30 journalists.
Aside from the economy and corruption in government, Aquino should also focus on how to stop the killings of journalists.
"He should take these incidents as a personal challenge if he wants to keep his promise of good governance," Espina said, adding that the incoming Aquino administration should realize that the killings "make a mockery of democracy."
Two radio commentators in Ilocos Norte and Davao Oriental provinces have already been killed.
On Monday night, a lone gunman shot dead Desiderio Camangyan of Sunrise FM radio station in Manay town, Davao Oriental.
Jovelito Agustin, meanwhile, was ambushed Tuesday night by motorcycle-riding gunmen while returning home from work at the boundary of Laoag City and Bacarra town in Ilocos Norte.
Agustin, who died 3 a.m. Wednesday at the hospital, is the 3rd radio commentator of dzJC Aksyon Radyo Laoag to be killed since 2004.
Radio commentators Roger Mariano and Andy Acosta were slain in 2004 and 2008, respectively.
Espina said Agustin is the 139th journalists killed since the late President Corazon Aquino came into power in 1986, and the 102nd under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
"This is getting to be too much... It is a very troublesome development," Espina said.
Secure journalists, orders PNP chief
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director-General Jesus Verzosa on Wednesday ordered all police commanders nationwide to secure media personalities amid the latest killings of journalists.
Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, PNP spokesman, said securing "all media personalities throughout the country" is only one of the latest orders issued by Verzosa after the killings of the 2 radio journalists.
Espina said Verzosa has ordered the PNP's Task Force Usig, a police group formed to focus on media and extra-judicial killings, to create a special investigation group and regularly send status reports of its investigations on the latest killings.
He said Verzosa also ordered to "relentlessly pursue the case[s] until solved" and conduct manhunt operations against the gunmen at "the soonest possible time."
The NUJP and other media organizations have scored the government's meaning of "solved" in connection with the cases of media killings.
Espina said that for the police, a case is solved if a suspect is arrested. He said that for Department of Justice, a case is solved if a criminal information is filed in court.
He added that based on the "pile of cases" being independently investigated by NUJP, not a single mastermind or local official has been charged or found guilty of involvement in media killings.
"We have not had a single conviction of a mastermind. I don't see that considered solved," Espina said. -- With a report from Noel Alamar, radio dzMM