Ifugao solon alarmed by Duterte on media killings

>> Monday, June 6, 2016

IFUGAO  Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat expressed serious concern over the pronouncements of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte that the killing of journalists is somehow justified on grounds of their being allegedly corrupt or biased.
Baguilat said the statement to the effect that killing a journalist is justified if he or she crosses an undefined line was alarming. Not only does it encourage people to take the law into their own hands, it also encourages them to break the law for the wrong reason, circumstances that cannot be justified under any condition, especially in a society ruled by law.
“The freedom of the press is one of the foundations of Philippine democracy. President-elect Duterte’s statement creates a chilling effect among journalists and threatens them to toe the line, or else. This is anathema to a democracy as it is this attitude precisely that has led to many journalists being killed,” Baguilat said.
Baguilat was reacting to statements made by Duterte in Davao where he said broadly that most journalists who had been killed were “corrupt”, and that “just because you’re a journalist does not mean that you are exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch.” 
 Baguilat said statements like these should be met with alarm as suppression of mass media and free speech contributed to the horrors of Martial Law, and the fact that today’s generation has failed to grasp the magnitude of what was done during that dark period can be attributed to the fact that accounts of what transpired were not widely distributed or struck down. 
Thus, freedom of the press has to be respected and nurtured. Curtailing it would definitely lead to the suppression of basic freedoms. 
The fact that media killings continued during the Aquino administration makes that one of the black spots on its record. 
Baguilat echoed the statement likewise issued by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which said that Duterte’s statement “not only sullies the names and memories of all 176 of our colleagues who have been murdered since 1986, he has also, in effect, declared open season to silence the media, both individual journalists and the institution, on the mere perception of corruption.”
Like NUJP, Baguilat believes that while corruption does exist and a problem facing the media, it cannot be used as justification for taking a life. There is such a thing as due process, and going against it would lead the nation into chaos, he said.
“In reality, taking on the role of judge, jury and executioner will lead to more violations and injustice and ultimately, anarchy,” Baguilat said.
“Being a son-of-a-bitch journalist is not an offense punishable by death,” added Baguilat, who worked as a journalist before entering politics. 
He said that he hopes that the president-elect would not be careless in making statements or jokes regarding media killings.


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