The Persistence of Impunity:A Bad Start for the New Year

Statement of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ)
on the killing of Christopher “Cris” Guarin

THE KILLING of General Santos newspaper publisher and RMN blocktimer Christopher Guarin hardly a week since the new year began is one more indication of the persistence of the culture of impunity that encourages the killing of journalists and media workers in the Philippines.

Unless the necessary steps are taken to speed up the ongoing trials of the accused in the killing of journalists as well as the masterminds , and to investigate, arrest, and try those involved in the killing of Guarin, as well as that of six other journalists in 2011, the killings are likely to continue in 2012 and the coming years.

Among the steps journalists and media advocacy groups including the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) proposed to the Aquino administration as early as August 2010 are strengthening the Witness Protection Program; rehabilitating the criminal investigation units of law enforcement agencies; organizing multi-sectoral Quick Response Teams; and reviewing the Rules of Court to speed up court trials. None of these proposals have so far been acted upon except that on the Witness Protection Program, the budget of which the government has increased.

The killing of Guarin demonstrates the urgency of the government’s acting on these proposals. FFFJ urges all media advocacy and journalists’ groups to intensify the campaign for government to do so, and calls upon civil society to add its voice to the imperative of punishing the guilty so as to end the culture of impunity that has claimed the lives of 124 journalists and media workers since 1986 to the detriment of the right of the people to information in a democratic regime.