Friday, October 06, 2006

Marlene's case incomplete victory -- FFFJ

Here is the statement of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc. (FFFJ) on the conviction of Marlene Esperat's killers today. Got this from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility site, which also prepared a primer on Esperat and the case.

FFFJ statement on the conviction of Esperat killers

Today's conviction of Marlene Esperat's killers is a welcome, though incomplete, victory for press freedom.

After nine grueling months, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc. (FFFJ) is more than happy that the trial had concluded with a sentence of life imprisonment for hit men Gerry Cabagay, Randy Grecia, and Estanislao Bismanos, who killed Marlene Esperat in cold blood while she was taking supper with her children on March 24, 2005.

However, this victory remains incomplete until the identified masterminds, Department of Agriculture Region XII finance officer Osmeña Montañer and accountant Estrella Sabay, are likewise tried for murder.

The victory is likewise incomplete because this is only the second successful conviction among the 28 cases of journalists slain in the line of duty under the Arroyo Administration.

Despite the constitutionally protected freedom of the press, the recent spate of journalists' killings has unfortunately earned the country the reputation of being "the most dangerous place for journalists," in international media circles.

The pursuit of justice in the case of Marlene Esperat would not have been possible without the support of concerned citizens and media organizations, both local and international. FFFJ hopes that today's victory will set the ball rolling for other cases of slain journalists even as it signals media's determination to pursue the cases until both assassins and masterminds are behind bars.

Currently pending in Manila courts are the murder cases of publisher-editor Philip Agustin and radio journalist Roger Mariano. Meanwhile, some 23 cases have yet to be filed even as police have failed to come up with the necessary evidence for the prosecution.

Center for Community Journalism and Development
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
Philippine Press Institute
Philippine News

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