NUJP backs slain journalists’ relatives in UNHRC case

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/4 March) – The National Union of Journalist of the Philippines has thrown its support behind the relatives of five slain journalists who filed cases before the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) against the Philippine government for its failure to give justice to their love ones.

“We commend the effort of CenterLaw Philippines for this initiative which comes at a time we feel there is no end to the killing of journalists in our land, and the search for justice have evaded the victims,” said Jessie Casalda, NUJP-Davao chair.

Casalda said that the action of the families provides “relief and hope” in order to attain justice.

NUJP cited that due to influence of power, there is a low conviction rate among the perpetrators of crimes against journalists. It noted that the task forces created by the government have only been used “to cover-up the real killers” instead of actually helping solve the incidents.

“It’s not surprising that we’re ranked by the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) as the third deadliest country in the world for journalists to work in. And what is the government doing to address this issue? What has it done for these families?” said Harry Roque who, together with Rommel Bagares of the Center for International Law, serves as counsel of the victims’ families.

They claimed that the Philippine government, through the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, did not do its best job in investigating the murders.

The complaint to the UNHRC also alleged that the government violated specific articles of the covenant such as Art. 6 (right to life), Art. 19 (right to freedom of expression) and Art. 26 (right of non-discrimination).

The complainants were relatives of broadcasters Juan Pala, Fernando Lintuan of Davao City; couple Marcel and George Vigo of Kidapawan City; Dennis Cuesta of General Santos City; and publisher William Yap Yu of Pagadian City. They were killed in separate incidents from 2000 to 2008.

Last September 2003, Pala, a critic of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, was shot dead. Lintuan, also a critic of Duterte, was killed on his way to get breakfast along R. Castillo St. in Agdao here in December 2007. Duterte has denied involvement in the killings.

Cuesta, a broadcaster of the Radio Mindanao Network in Davao, was gunned down August w008 by two unidentified gunmen aboard a motorcycle while he, together with a cousin, was on his way to Gaisano Mall.

The Vigo couple were killed while driving home on their motorcycle with their five kids in June 2006.

Yu, the publisher of Pagadian City Star, was shot dead in his city in 2000. (MindaNews)