De Lima joins call to end impunity for crimes vs journalists

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has joined calls by some quarters to end impunity for crimes against Filipino journalists amid the continuing attacks against them under the present government as they continue to serve as messengers of truth.

De Lima also asked the Filipino public to go beyond condemning the continued attacks, intimidation and harassment against local journalists by exercising extreme vigilance in ensuring that their rights and dignity are protected at all times.

“With the duty to uphold truth and freedom, journalists serve as society’s watchdog. They report to check abuses and expose wrongdoings in government. This is why press freedom is a pillar of democracy,” she said.

“With the Duterte administration discrediting anyone it perceives as critical, even branding independent media as ‘presstitutes’, Filipinos need to be vigilant in defending journalists against all forms of threat and intimidation,” she added.

De Lima sounded the call as the international community observed the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists last Nov. 2.

With many unsolved media killings, and counting, De Lima noted the Philippines ranks fifth among countries with the worst record of prosecuting killers of journalist, based on the 2019 Global Impunity Index by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Three weeks from now, our nation will mark a decade since the Maguindanao massacre, and yet the court case remains to be concluded,” she recalled.

“This worst election-related violence in our country on 23 November 2009 was also the single deadliest attack on journalists in history. Of the 58 people killed, 32 were media workers,” she added.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, also lamented the increasingly gendered violence against women in media brought about my Mr. Duterte who is infamous for his sexist jokes and misogynist remarks directed not only to female politicians like De Lima, but also female journalists such as Ellen Tordesillas, Mariz Umali, Pia Ranada, Gretchen Malalad and Jamela Alindogan.

De Lima also cited, among others, the attacks against Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa and journalist Inday Espina-Varona whom the Senator both regarded as highly-esteemed journalists in the world due to their integrity and meaningful advocacies.

“Here, Ressa faces a slew of harassment cases, while Varona is accused of being a propagandist of communist rebels. This increasingly gendered violence against women in media is appalling and should end now,” she said.

In the previous 17th Congress, De Lima introduced Senate Bill No. 1860 requiring media entities to provide insurance coverage and hazard pay to journalists and other media persons, especially to those assigned in conflict or disaster areas. (30)

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