Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A victory for press freedom in the Philippines

It was, indeed, as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) had written in its blog, a decisive victory for press freedom.

I used to be the alerts coordinator for CMFR, monitoring the attacks against and threats to press freedom primarily in the Philippines. With some time in press alerts monitoring, I know that the murder case of journalist Edgar Damalerio (whose photo appears on the left) has become a kind of symbol of the journalist killings and culture of impunity and violence in the country. If I recall it right, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), a coalition of media organizations addressing such attacks against and threats to press freedom, was organized in January 2003 right after a discussion of the case involving Damalerio, an award-winning Pagadian journalist.

In case you want to know, the FFFJ members are CMFR, the Center for Community Journalism and Development, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the Philippine News, and the Philippine Press Institute).

Finally, after a long wait of three years and 200 days, former policeman Guillermo Wapile has been convicted by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court of killing Damalerio, sentencing him of life imprisonment. "Damalerio’s widow, Gemma, broke into tears upon hearing the judgment handed down by Judge Ramon Codilla of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court Branch 19," CMFR reported in its post. "The emotion was shared by Edgar Ongue, the slain journalist’s friend and key witness in the case, who sat expressionless, but nonetheless heaved a sigh of relief with the outcome of the case."

The decision, CMFR said, is the only third recorded conviction out of a total of 55 cases of journalist killings since democracy regained its ground in the country in 1986. But the conviction is a welcome turn of events following how media-related killings have risen in the last three years, making us the "most dangerous place for journalists", according to international press freedom watchdogs.

“I would like to thank all, especially the media organizations that never wavered in monitoring and helping the case of my husband,” Gemma said to CMFR.


luthien said...

good...buti nakulong na...more cases to go *sigh* hirap sa propesyong 'to, di ka na nga yayaman, pag ginawa mo ang tama papatayin ka pa. hmmm...should change career path na. hehe. joke lang. mahaba pa ang laban.

bryant said...

oo nga eh. on to the other cases.

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