Philippines ranks second to Russia as worst offender of journalists’ rights-Lacson

May 1, 2010

The Philippines is now third to Iraq and Somalia in terms of violence being committed against journalists and second to Russia as the country with the worst human rights record, Liberal Party senatorial candidate Atty. Alex ‘Pinoy’ Lacson warns, citing a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international watchdog. Lacson urged government, especially the Philippine National Police (PNP), to enhance and strengthen measures aimed at protecting the lives of Filipino newsmen.

Lacson, a bestselling author and former columnist of Business World, cited the CPJ’s impunity index which examines murders committed involving journalists as victims. The CPJ had cited the gruesome massacre of 30 Filipino journalists in Maguindanao as a reason for placing the Philippines under its international watch list.

The CPJ, says Lacson, is closely monitoring the developments here in the Philippines, a country which the CPJ says is one of the worst offenders of journalists’ rights in the world, second to Russia. Lacson advised the government to ensure that cases involving murders and massacres, particularly that of the Ampatuan massacre last November 23, be addressed immediately.

“The world is watching us. And surely, the recent decision by Justice Secretary Alberto Agra on the Ampatuan massacre case was another blot in the country’s human rights record. This heightens the perception of the international community that justice is not being served here and only the rich and powerful are being catered to by government.”

Lacson says that the Filipino people deserves a new government that fully respects not just the rights of newsmen, but all ordinary citizens living in a democratic society such as the Philippines.

“Human rights cannot just be two words written on a piece of paper, a mere provision of the Philippine Constitution. It should be a living testament, a social contract, that government should ensure proper compliance. Without the Bill of Rights and its proper enforcement, how can we truly say that we are living in a democracy? Democracy is a sham if we cannot get justice for our people or protect those at risk.

“The recent decision of Sec. Agra dampens the optimism of international human rights bodies and serves as a cruel reminder to every one that crime seems to pay off in our country.”

Lacson welcomed the recent statement made by the palace asking Agra to explain why he should not be replaced as department secretary.

“Malacanang is trying to insulate the president from Agra’s decision. But the reality is, that decision is already out in the public and it is for the executive to act swiftly to see that the judicial process is allowed to run its course. If the president does not take action over her direct subordinate, then she would be a party to the offense — there is no excuse for such an omission.”