Campus press demands justice for slain journalists

CEGPIn commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, student publications from different colleges and universities in Metro Manila gathered in a protest action to condemn the continued journalist killings in the country with the recent murder of a Cavite-based reporter last April 6.

Rubylita “Rubie” Garcia, a reporter for Remate and blocktimer at DWAD radio station in Cavite, was shot inside her house in Bacoor City, Cavite on a Sunday morning. According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Garcia is the 210th media worker killed and 70th victim of work-related media killings since 1986. She is also the 22nd victim of media killings during the regime of President Benigno Aquino III.

The murder was said to be perpetrated by a local police officer whom Garcia has hard-hitting reports on regarding ill-practices of the police in the town of Tanza in Cavite.

“This recent attack on press freedom is very alarming,” said Charina Claustro, CEGP-Metro Manila Chairperson. “Rubie Garcia’s murder is yet another case which affirms that the Philippines remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.”

According to the 2014 Impunity Index of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, the Philippines ranked third after Iraq and Somalia (which ranked first and second, respectively), as the most dangerous places to practice journalism. Also, there is the infamous Ampatuan Massacre which claimed the lives of 58 individuals, including 32 media workers, in a single incident and put the Philippines on the third spot on the Impunity Index since 2010.

Aside from media killings, threats and red-tagging of media workers are prevalent. The red-tagging of progressive online news magazine by the Armed Forces of the Philippines last October 2013 and radio reporters of Radyo ni Juan in Tagum City, Davao del Norte this April 2014 are just two cases of violating the rights of the free press.

“The members of the campus press are also victims to the continuing reign of impunity in the Philippine society. The threat of abolition of EARIST Technozette of Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology (EARIST), removal of scholarships of two campus journalists of good academic standing of The National of National University, the ongoing trial of a libel case against Outcrop of University of the Philippines-Baguio and the unresolved murder case of Benjaline “Beng” Hernandez of Atenews of Ateneo de Davao University arejust a few of the long list of campus press freedom violations CEGP has documented over time,” said Marc Lino Abila, CEGP National Secretary General.

“Let us not forget the more than 230 campus press freedom violations nationwide CEGP documented just for 2013. This is due to Campus Journalism Act of 1991 being toothless and being used by school administrators against student publications,” Abila said.

“The situation of the press in the country under Aquino is worsening,” Abila added. “No convictions on cases of media killings have been made, and the culprits escape unscathed. Although Malacañang said that they would do everything necessary to solve Rubie Garcia’s murder, how about the other cases of journalist killings and the snail-paced trial of Ampatuan Massacre?”

“The campus press is in solidarity with journalists around the world in fighting impunity. As future practitioners in the mainstream media, we see the need to struggle for genuine press freedom. We call every campus journalist to be part of this cause to end this culture of impunity,” Claustro ended.