Provide media direct line to police, senator tells PNP

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

SENATOR Grace Poe called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday to provide media professionals a direct line to police authorities in the wake of increasing crimes against journalists.

In a joint hearing of the Senate committees on public order and dangerous drugs and committee on justice and human rights, Police Superintendent Henry Libay reported that out of 48 incidents of media killings since 2001, only six were resolved, with convictions.

"Media should have a direct line to the PNP. So that if there is any threat, they will feel they have protection," said Poe, chairperson of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs.

"Unfortunately, the police would be involved in some cases. It is important to establish a reliable direct line that the media can trust. Yung bulok na itlog sa kaing, 'yun ang nagpapasira. Hindi naman lahat kayo ganyan," the senator added.

Poe also called on the interagency commission on extrajudicial killings to submit a progress report to the committee and put a media representative to coordinate on its efforts.

The senator joined the National Press Club (NPC) headed by Joel Sy Egco and the National Confederation of Asean Journalists headed by Benny Antiporda in calling for the prompt resolution of journalists' killings, particularly the recent murder of Robelita "Rubie" Garcia, whose son spoke at the hearing.

"Kahit anumang dahilan sa pagapatay sa iyong nanay, iyan ay mali dahil yan ay krimen," Poe told Garcia's son.

According to Libay, 36 out of the 48 incidents of media killings have been filed in court: 12 on trial; six archived; six resolved with convictions; four resolved with acquittal; and five dismissed.

Meanwhile, Egco said it is disturbing to note that the Philippines now ranks second to Iraq with the highest number of murdered journalists.

Egco blamed the government's lack of political will in finding a lasting solution to the problem of media killings.

The NPC leadership expressed disappointment on the PNP's failure to track down the suspects behind the media killings.

"There are even instances where suspects were released from detention due to mere technicality," the NPC said. "Worse, this lack of urgency or seriousness in the investigation of these cases has so far resulted to zero conviction."

The Confederation of Asian Journalist and the NPC maintained that unless Philippine authorities start giving their full and serious attention to this growing and menacing problem, death and violence will continue to hound the members of Philippine media and threaten press freedom, which is an essential component of the democracy.

Both the NPC and CAJ said it is important that a member of the media must be part of the government investigation in order to make sure that the matter will be given the right attention and support. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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