The recent events that have occurred in Maguindanao has prompted me to dig up old issues of The Scholastican and look for the issue where I wrote about the journalist killings back then.
Without further ado, I share with you my article on journalist killings I wrote back in 2005.
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Figuratively, a journalist can be "killed" by means of a starvation wage and overwork. Morally "killing" a journalist would mean the influence of the material world, more often equated to money -- bribery. On the literal side, unhappy politicians could hire people to assassinate journalists.
Starvation wages can kill the spirit of journalists and make them an easy prey to all sorts of temptations. On another point, bribery can make them forget the mission and ethics of their profession. But killing is the ultimate solution to the problem of personalities or groups with journalists who reveal anomalies that would inflict a damaging reputation to them.
We like to pride ourselves as "the freest press in Asia." However, the number of journalists killed since the time of Marcos makes this statement an ultimate lie. We call our society democratic and yet we allow journalists to get killed. How can we claim the existence of press freedom when journalists are being murdered again and again?
A study shows that since 1986, a total of 69 journalists were killed. Of the told, 39 were categorized as job-related; 22 had unknown causes or motives; and the rest were non-work related. Of the 39 journalists killed in line of duty, many were actively involved in crusades against corruption and related issues or were assigned to conflict areas.
Majority of the victims, a vast 51 per cent of them, were reporters, correspondents or broadcasters. The remaining 49 per cent is distributed to editors, publishers, commentators and photojournalists.
So why are the killings of Filipino journalists relentlessly thrive in our society? Powerful people are killing journalists and they are doing it with impunity. Only five of the 69 cases have been solved, and only three cases have ended in the conviction of the killers. 93 per cent of the cases, still quite a big number, have remained unsolved.
A new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists has found that Iraq, Columbia, Bangladesh and Russia are among the murderous countries for journalists. The Philippines is said to be the most dangerous place in the world to practice journalism.
The killing of journalists is the ultimate expression of the censorship of the freedom of the press. Victimized news subjects can file complaints against the editors of newspapers. They can also file libel cases. Regrettably, many prefer to use the ultimate weapon of silencing journlists: ASSASSINATION. Such a method should not dwell in a free and democratic society where justice is of paramount importance.