Figures clearly show the culture of impunity under the Arroyo administration. But the counting does not stop nor does it start all over again at the change of the administration.
Though there is hope that the numbers of media killings will drop under the Aquino administration, there is no difference in the death of one journalist to a hundred. It is not about the numbers; they now hold no value. These killings reflect the kind of society that we have now: one that is numb of violence and tolerating it through silence.
Thus, we in the College of Mass Communication call on Pres. Aquino to implement the “change” that he had promised and delineate from his predecessor especially for media. We call on the present administration to:
• Combat the prevailing culture of impunity, and strive for a culture of justice. Ensure that proper prosecution take place for all the victims of media violence and human rights violations.
• Take a clear stand on media killings. Hold the Arroyo administration accountable for the extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.
• Adhere to respect human rights. Continue the strong presence of the Commission on Human Rights and ensure the drop of human rights violations.
o Order the release of the Morong 43 and hold the perpetrators accountable. Clear the names of the health workers, two of which were former students of the College of Mass Communication: Jacqueline Gonzales, former CMC Student Council Chariperson in the year 2004-2005; and Malen Serato, a broadcast communication graduate.
o Guarantee that justice is served to all the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre. Disarm civilian volunteer organizations and vigilante groups, and denounce warlordism. Most of all, seek the removal of the country’s recognition as the “most dangerous place to practice journalism.”
• Lead all branches of government in fostering an atmosphere conducive to the development of a free press.
o Forward the passage of a stronger Freedom of Information Act. Ascertain transparency and allow media to perform its check and balance function.
o Frustrate any attempts to pass the Right of Reply Bill. Assert the development of a free press, and a law that would restrict the freedom of the press does nothing but subvert such.
o Prevent all efforts for charter change. Assure that no specific interests are served.
• Develop a more competent public information system, providing greater state subsidy and government support. Maximize the use of assets for more efficient information dissemination.
o Push for professional sequestered stations (IBC 13, NBN 4, RPN 9), serving the people and not the administration. Recognize that regardless of being government-funded, they as public servants should be allowed to criticize the government.
o Question the relevance of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, which is supposedly only a transition body and not a censorship body. Further the self-regularization of film and television.
• Guarantee job security for media practitioners, instead of being paid based on contract or as “talents” paid on the basis of output. Give a concrete stand on the lay-off of workers by ABS-CBN.
• Address corruption in media the way government corruption is faced, and clear affiliations with the country’s big media entities.
• Spend on education, and abolish miseducation. Nurture a competent and mature art sector that fosters nationalism. This call is not only for the president, but for all media practitioners as well.
This serves yet again another challenge to Pres. Aquino, calling him to stay true to his promises and hold Arroyo accountable for all her crimes. For how could he start clean with a stained slate? We in the College of Mass Communication shall remain vigilant and critical; counting every day, every deed, and every promise he has made, fulfilled, and broken. We shall watch along with the rest of the Filipino people if he is really embodying the “democracy” he claims to represent. Or else, it is that democracy that will throw him out of seat.
Source: College of Mass Communication Student Council