MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) welcomed yesterday the proposal of an international media organization to create special courts to handle murder cases involving journalists.
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome said the suggestion made by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) for dedicated courts to handle cases of killings of journalists is worth considering.
“Certainly, special courts for journalist’s slay will be similarly successful in expediting solution of cases of murdered newsmen,” Bartolome said, pointing out that there are special courts to handle drug-related cases and heinous crimes, which have been successful in the speedy prosecution of offenders.
He said the PNP has fielded tracker teams to hunt down the 20 suspects involved in murders of newsmen.
As a preventive measure, Bartolome said the PNP is closely coordinating with local media organizations to identify journalists who are under threat.
He said the PNP is eyeing the possibility of conducting security training for journalists.
“We will also conduct risk assessment for these threatened journalists and possibly provide protective security if necessary,” he said.
PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa has tasked Director Raul Bacalzo, Task Force USIG director, to coordinate efforts for the arrest of 20 suspects involved in 17 cases of murdered journalists.
The CPJ has ranked the Philippines sixth in its list of countries with unsolved cases of journalists getting killed in the line of duty.
Bartolome clarified the 24 cases in the Philippines cited by CPJ are actually part of the 26 cases filed in court which have been considered solved.
Acording to Bacalzo, Task Force USIG has already filed 26 cases against 55 suspects involved in 31 murders of newsmen since 2001.–Cecille Suerte Felipe, Philippine Star