For Filipino journalists, today is ‘Black Friday’

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JOURNALISTS across the country are observing Black Friday today as as a protest to the unabated attacks and killings of members of the media.

Last week, Tagum City broadcaster Rogelio Butalid was murdered minutes after he finished his radio program. A day before he was killed, unidentified assailants also attacked Iloilo broadcaster Jhonavin Villalba of Aksyon Radyo.

On December 6, unidentified gunmen shot dead Michael Milo, a commentator on DXFM in Tandag City.  A week before Milo’s murder, on November 29, another broadcaster, Joash Dignos, was gunned down in Valencia City.

Malacanang has downplayed the spate of media killings in the Philippines. President Benigno Aquino III even countered the assessment of Human Rights Watch about media killings in the Philippines being a national catastrophe.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the recent attacks raised to 12 the number of journalists killed so far in 2013. Under the Aquino administration, 26 journalists have already been killed–with no successful prosecution. In November 23, 2009, 32 journalists were killed in the Ampatuan Massacre. 

“Killings under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III now stand at 21, the worst incidence rate under any presidency since 1986 (excluding 32 journalists killed in the Ampatuan Massacre),” NUJP said. “The apparent apathy of the government towards killings and attacks against press freedom emboldens attackers to inflict harm as they go unpunished.”

NUJP has called on colleagues to join in the protest.

“Online, we plead everyone to join us in changing our profile and cover pictures to pitch black, in unity with our call. Please share and repost this image (attached to this email) and tag as many people as you can. On blogs and over social media, initiate and join discussions on how attacks against free press affects everyone, and what can be done to mitigate these,” NUJP said.

“Offline, we encourage colleagues to wear black in newsrooms and in the field,” it added.

The group said that the recent attacks are “reasons enough to rage and to put pressure.”

“When journalists are harmed and silenced, the people’s right to know is put on the line. The killings and attacks therefore have to end,” the group said. | NewsDesk

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