Malacañang passes on ‘pressure’ to judiciary in solving media killings

Published by rudy Date posted on April 19, 2011

Malacañang yesterday passed on to the judiciary the “pressure” it is receiving from various media and other press-oriented organizations concerning the resolution of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre and other political killings involving journalists that happened during the Arroyo administration.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the blame for the apparent slow action of the courts as regards to the Ampatuan trial should not be put on the Executive branch, arguing that it is already beyond the President Aquino’s jurisdiction once cases have been filed before the respective legal courts.

“I would also like to ask the journalists not to focus solely on the Executive branch. The cases are being handled by the judiciary and I think that you should exert some pressure on the judges to make sure that the cases are heard on regular basis. The blame should not be laid on the Executive branch solely,” Lacierda told reporters at a news conference.

Lacierda was reacting to the reported cry of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc. (FFFJ) for Aquino start fulfilling his campaign promise of upholding human rights in the country given the alarming number of journalist murderers who purportedly escaped punishment and conviction under his administration.

FFFJ recognized in its letter that Aquino merely inherited the 117 unresolved media killings from his predecessor but it is now he who has the power to ensure that justice will be served to these victims of political violence and those crimes against journalists and political activists won’t happen again under his watch.

The Palace official said they remain very concerned on the persisting culture of impunity targeting media personalities in the country hence the respective government agencies are working toward investigating and prosecuting media-related crimes that happened under the Aquino administration.

Lacierda cited anew the cases of three journalist killings that happened early on in Aquino’s presidency which, he said, have already been taken to the courts with the help of the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) who successfully identified and captured the suspects behind the said murders.

“With respect to the government’s attitude toward the killings of journalists, we are very concerned with that. The motivation for the killing of journalists would vary: sometimes, it’s politically-motivated, other times it is privately motivated. So the only reason why it stands out is because the personalities involved are journalists,” Lacierda said at a news conference.

“Again, we have to go to the nature of the crime itself if it is politically-motivated or there’s a personal vendetta which is involved in the killings. But we treat it as a crime, so we are on top of that and we promise to look into it. In fact, our extralegal killings on the journalists, early on we’ve already managed to file cases with those respondents, accused concerned so we do not countenance extralegal killings of the journalists,” he added.

Lacierda said they have already made their position clear as regards to the Ampatuan trial, citing the President’s bid for its live coverage as demanded by some of the media organizations, but he stressed that the decision remains with the judiciary.

“The hundred-something cases in which I do not have a clear record of — if it’s already filed with the courts then, I think, pressure should be brought to bear on the judiciary and not on us. But certainly, our position is we’re going to investigate all the cases of killings with the journalists,” he stressed. –Aytch S. de la Cruz, Daily Tribune

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