Manila: A total of 25 journalists were killed since the start of the term of President Benigno Aquino in 2010, raising to 157 the number of reporters who perished while at work since 1986, the start of return of democratic processes in the country after the ouster of former President Ferdinand Marcos, a group of reporters said,
A higher number of 104 journalists died during the term of former President Gloria Arroyo from 2001 to 2010, said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), which also blamed the Aquino administration for the slow paced trial of the massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists, allegedly by a powerful Filipino-Muslim political family in the southern Philippines in late 2009.
“Analysts have predicted that the trial (of the Maguindanao massacre) could last 24 years at the least,” NUJP lamented.
The Ampatuans, a powerful Filipino-Muslim political family, allegedly ordered the November 23, 2009 massacre of members of a convoy who were to file a certificate of candidacy of Esmael Mangudadatu, also a party member of the Ampatuans, who wanted to run as governor of Maguindanao in 2010.
Some 103 suspects were arrested, but 93 are still at large. Two witnesses who could pin down the mastermind were not allowed to testify. Three major witnesses were killed.
“Despite a decline in the number of killings (from 2010 to 2013) compared to the previous administration, local and international press freedom groups lament the fact that prosecution of (old and new) media murders are moving rather slow; some cases did not even reach preliminary investigation, and killings and other attacks against media practitioners continue unabated,” NUJP complained.
Earlier, Aquino promised to give speedy justice for victims of media killing.
Only 15 cases of media murders are being tried. Ten cases were convicted, but mastermind of media killings such as local government officials, policemen and military men, were never arrested, NUJP observed.