Posts Tagged ‘media killings’

Outside Kafka dwells the collective resistance of the people: a statement against the harassment of student leaders and campus press freedom violations

One day in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, Joseph K. woke up just to find out that he was under arrest for a crime he – and even his arresters! – could not identify. Outside the Kafkaesque world where the bizarre is rational and the rational unusual, violations of rights are being committed but accusing fingers are being vehemently directed and names are being explicitly called. Just as the rights violators are direct in taking charge of the “criminals;” the “criminals,” unlike Kafka’s Joseph K. are unflinching in condemning such malicious accusations from their tormentors.

It was January 18 when Marben Panlasigui, Governor of the Student Council School of Humanities (SoH), was harassed by SoH Dean Lilian Gandeza. As reported in this statement by Anakbayan Cordillera, Gandeza accused Panlasigui of commanding the underground movement Kabataang Makabayan. Gandeza also questioned Panlasigui’s effectiveness as a leader and warned him to beware for the SLU Administration can trace his activities. Notably, Panlasigui is a member of the youth organization Anakbayan, an organization known for its consistent campaign not just for the rights and welfare of student but also of the greater people. By conducting activities that raise the awareness of the community to issues like Tuition and Other Fees Increase, Anti-Student Policies, Oil Price and other basic commodities’ hikes among others, Anakbayan continually achieves its objectives of educating and mobilizing the people in relation to the issues that affect them.

In the incident involving Governor Panlasigui and Dean Gandeza, we can see the clash of interests which underlies Gandeza’s assault on Panlasigui. It is the classic and recurring tale of the powerful and privileged playing on their subordinates. This is only symptomatic of a larger scheme of things which manifests itself in a lot of venues in a lot of ways. In schools, the press freedom of campus publications is being violated. The former Editor-in-Chief of UP Baguio Outcrop is still facing a libel case filed by a Professor in the University for a lampoon article. This is almost Kafkaesque, but Kafkaesque does not exactly mean utterly ridiculous, if not foolish. The Loquitur of the King’s College of the Philippines is still chained to an Administration-appointed adviser who meddles with the internal affairs of the publication. The operations of school and college-based publications in SLU and BSU are hampered by inadequate facilities. In the society at large, the Aquino administration sanctions the Oplan Bayanihan which is merely a sanitized name for the ‘legal’ silencing, prosecution, if not extirpation, of anyone who questions or criticizes the government. Even media practitioners whose job is to tell the truth about the things happenings in the community are not spared of this self-serving program by Aquino. As of November last year, at least 24 journalists have been killed in Aquino’s term. When he banked on the rhetoric of the “tuwid na daan,” Aquino did not reveal all; he did not tell us the “tuwid na daan” is a road filled with blood.

This scheme of things – where a progressive student leader like Panlasigui is being harassed by a school official, supposedly its ally in protecting the rights of students — is in effect because the powerful does not want anyone to have the proper venues to voice out its concerns, criticisms and recommendations.

This scheme of things – where campus journalists, supposedly the mouthpiece of the students, are being charged with libel cases and not being provided with the necessary equipment for their operation — is taking effect because the powerful does not want to mold critical, curious, proactive and independently thinking individuals.

This scheme of things – where the government itself not only condones but initiates the massacre, be it physical or spiritual, of its people – is in effect because the privileged and the powerful will try in all its might to keep the status quo where they rule and benefit at the expense of the larger people.

At the end of Joseph K.’s “trial”—a truly befuddling, if not senseless, or maybe philosophical one, Joseph K. was left musing about everything that just occurred to him.  Until the end, he did not know what he has done for his tormentors to do what they did just do to him. Good thing we are not in Kafka’s universe. For while the powers-that-be are trying us, trying how far our being vigilant, our being critical, our being revolutionary can go, we have the benefit of understanding the systemic origin of this “trial.” We shall not find ourselves merely musing about this hopeless fate at the end. This is not a hopeless situation we are in, after all. This is not the pages of Kafka. With our collective strength and efforts, we can put an end to this system where the powerful few are exploiting and tormenting the greater populace.


On the third year of Maguindanao Massacre: CEGP exhorts press to be involved in fight for justice, press freedom

Press Statement

November 16, 2012

On Friday, three years would have passed since the bloody Maguindanao massacre and up to now, no prosecution of any viable suspect has been made. The search for justice continues to move snail-paced. Last year, a key development happened when November 23 was declared as the International Day to End Impunity through the initiative of various media groups all over the world led by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX). However, the Philippine government does not seem to be pressured by the growing outcry from the international community of journalists especially since the death of 32 journalists in the Maguindanao massacre was the chief basis in marking November 23 as the International Day to End Impunity.

Media groups in the Philippines, including the CEGP has been consistently campaigning for justice for the massacre victims and their families. Last August, Datu Ulo Ampatuan and Ipeh Ampatuan, grandsons of Andal Ampatuan Sr. became the 101st and 102nd suspects to be apprehended.  While these arrests are not what we are ultimately clamoring for since both are mere accomplices and not masterminds on the notorious massacre, we welcomed this feat and regard the mass movement of the mainstream and campus press, the Church and other concerned groups as the principal catalysts in advancing the trial.

On the other hand, the reversion of the Supreme Court last October on the issue of live media coverage is a new downside in the progress of the case. With the High Court disapproving the live media coverage of the dubbed “trial of the century,” several factors like transparency and the public interest are being overlooked. The resolution cited reasons like “prejudicial effects of telecasting on witnesses” and even on the defendant and the public judgment for its decision. However, at the expense of the comforts of the witnesses and the defendants is the public’s right to information regarding a national issue of great vitality. The absence of live media coverage of this case can dampen the awareness and consequently, the actions of the public regarding the issue. While the live media coverage is not a primary determining factor to the advancement of the case, it can help in fixing in the memory of the Filipino people that some time in the past, while they were doing their duty to report the truth, 32 journalists were inhumanely killed because of the culture of powerplay that only breeds political avarice, or worse, needless violence.


Warlordism and the political landscape in the Philippines

The 2009 Maguindanao incident is inextricable from the electoral atmosphere that was already forming then approaching the 2010 national elections. We can recall that the massacre occurred when an Esmael Mangudadatu was about to file a certificate of candidacy in an attempt to challenge the Ampatuan’s long reign in the province of Maguindanao. Before arriving at the Commission of Elections, the convoy was met by a band of armed men and was savagely murdered in an instant.

After the massacre, the warlordism in Maguindanao and other parts of Mindanao was severely highlighted. Not a few key politicians have a vast stock of armaments and hired gunmen. This is rampant not only in Mindanao but also in some provinces in the Cordilleras such as in Abra. During election time, the armed forces of these politicians are mobilized to harass opponents or coerce the public and demand their votes. Aside from causing occasional deaths, this also emphasizes the culture of terror being put on the general public to which mere speaking, much more opposing, could mean sudden extermination. Worse, those who perpetrate these heinous crimes do not even have the slightest feeling of being fazed as they run free doing their acts and if charged and put on trial, can still twist the judicial procedures to their advantage.

In the end, the electoral process is being bastardized as aside from gold, one seems to need to have goons and guns in order to have a decent chance to win. Thus, the democratic character of elections is lost and it only becomes a game for those who have the funds and the conscience to demonize rivals and sometimes, execute the opposition.


The position of the campus press

On the third year since the horrifying Maguindanao Massacre, CEGP Baguio-Benguet continues to call for justice for the victims and their families and the condemnation of election-related violence which inevitably affects the press as well. This serves as an added threat to journalists who are already beleaguered by criminal libel and other forms of harassments in their professional practice. Deciding to be a journalists is already a tall order because in doing such, one already commits to the truth above all else and ideally with disregard to whoever’s interests that can warp the reportage of truthful events. With the perennial pressure exerted on them by the status quo where a few benefits from the travails of the majority, the press must maintain its valiant stance against all designs that aim to limit the truth it can express. At the same time, the press must be actively involved in protesting against designs and acts such as the criminal libel and media killings that hinder their practice of journalism.

One Maguindanao Massacre should be enough to show us how those who brandish the truth suffer at the hands of those who are greedy of power. To end the impunity, active involvement must win over sitting on the fence and resignation.






For Reference:

Ivan Emil Labayne, 09268105915


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