Task Force on media security submits inventory of media worker killings to President Duterte

MANILA — The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) submitted to the Office of President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday its inventory of cases of violence perpetrated upon media workers by state and non-state forces in compliance with Section 4 of Administrative Order No. 1.

This inventory will serve as the benchmark for assessing progress in each case. Developments resulting from the action of the task force will be reported in April 2017 and every six months thereafter.

“We thank President Duterte for signing AO No. 1. This is a clear indication that he wants to end these killings. This is not lip-service. We believe that this is a serious action. This is a serious call to action for the entire government machinery. This is also the first time that the media came to government to solve this problem. We used to term this the Media Killing Superbody in the sense that we have the entire resources of government,” Joel Sy-Egco, executive director of PTFoMS, said.

The documents on journalists killed since 2001 were received by Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, who represented the President.

The PTFoMS Technical Working Group will reexamine the cases using the AO No. 1 criteria for violence against media workers in order to produce a harmonized list of cases.

Currently, the PTFoMS inventory is composed of records of cases from the A.O. 35 Inter Agency Committee (IAC) on Extra Judicial Killings (EJK) of the previous administration and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

The PTFoMS excluded the Maguindanao massacre case from being revisited in light of AO No. 1 because it is an ongoing trial.

The A.O. 35 IAC EJK received 125 cases involving media killings from 2001 to 2016. After the IAC EJK’s evaluation, 61 of these cases were classified as work-related media killings under AO 35.

The status of cases are as follows:

1. Total number of cases pending in court, 22. Of this number, eight are pending trial and 14 have been archived.

2. Total number of cases pending police investigation, 3.

3. Total number of cases under police investigation, 5.

4. Total unsolved police cases, 7.

5. Total terminated cases, 35. Of this number, 14 have resulted in conviction; six resulted in the acquittal of the accused; one was dismissed under the National Prosecutorial Service; seven were dismissed by courts; and seven were terminated because of the death of the accused.

On the other hand, the CMFR tally counts 228 cases involving media killings starting from 1986 but classified only 152 as work-related cases.

The apparent variance between the figures tallied by CMFR and AO 35 may be due to several factors. First, CMFR reported cases cover a longer period of time which starts from 1986 whereas the case count under AO 35 covers a period which starts from 2001.

Secondly, the CMFR data were based on individual victims, while AO 35 data were based on case incidents which may involve two or more victims. AO 35 counted the Maguindanao massacre as a single case. The CMFR counted it according to the number of the 32 victims.

Lastly, the larger number of CMFR report might be due to the fact that some complaints had never been filed before the proper forum. The discrepancy in the data is due to the absence of criminal action or investigation filed.

“Our aim is to make the Philippines as the safest place for journalists in the world,” said Egco. PNA-northboundasia.com