Thursday, July 20, 2006

Something's very wrong with this country

Red Batario, executive director of the Center for Community Journalism and Development, comes up this statement amid the latest journalist killing in the country:

Something's Very Wrong

Once again press organizations and media associations will be condemning the latest killing of a Filipino journalist. Once again international press watchdogs will call for a full investigation. Once again police authorities will create another task force to go after the killers. Once again there will be a lot of angry denunciations. Once again nothing will happen.

The murder of community broadcaster Armando "Rachman" Pace, 51, of Radyo Ukay in Digos, Davao del Sur last July 18 brings to eight the number of journalists killed in the country this year.

"This brings the Philippines' atrocious record for journalist safety to a new low, less than a month after the shocking murder of journalist husband and wife George and Macel Vigo," said Christopher Warren, president of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

The statistics are grim enough reminders that something's very wrong with this country.

But do we as a nation really care about the brutal, blatant, successive, and brazen murder not only of journalists but also of activists, lawyers and others whose only crime was trying to let people know the truth and their rights? Do we in the national media suffer from selective amnesia when we forget to voice our anger because those targeted were community journalists living and working so far away from our own comfort zones? Do we as citizens care well enough to understand media's role in democracy?

These are dark days indeed for the Philippine press and the Philippines as a nation.

All of us should suffer the collective shame of allowing a culture of impunity to take root in our midst. All of us should take the blame for pretending, or at worst believing, that things will become better by doing nothing at all.

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