COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 3 Nov) – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Monday reiterated its commitment for the safety of journalists working inside the region.
The BARMM made the reassurance on Monday, the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, the spokesperson of Bangsamoro region who represented the host of the event, BARMM executive secretary Abdulraof “Sammy Gambar” Macacua, said the region does not want to repeat the dark history, referring to the infamous Maguindanao Massacre that claimed the lives of 58 persons, including 32 media workers, in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.
“We made this commitment earlier and we are reaffirming it today that your government would ensure that impunity for the crimes against journalists do not happen in the region,” he said.
Acknowledging the important role of free press in a democratic society, where some powerful forces wanted to curb or curtail truth, the Bangsamoro government is willing to assist journalists under threat to seek refuge from them or be provided with government protection or legal services, Sinarimbo assured.
He said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) can also offer informal assistance if they have presence in the threatened journalist’s community.
“If you feel threatened or in any way receive threats from anyone, please feel free to call us or communicate with us by any means and we will make sure that we provide the necessary assistance for you,” he said, adding that the assurance comes from the chief minister of the Bangsamoro government.
The region has allocated a trust fund for members of the media for medical assistance, burial assistance or for those affected by calamity, Sinarimbo said.
“While we are assisting journalists on their welfare, it doesn’t mean that they will report only praises about us,” he stressed, adding that they are still open to criticism, for the media look at the gaps they may not have seen and report on them.
“In the past 14 years (2006-2019), close to 1,200 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. In nine out of 10 cases the killers go unpunished. Impunity leads to more killings and is often a symptom of worsening conflict and the breakdown of law and judicial systems,” according to the United Nations.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed November 2 as the “International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists” in Resolution A/RES/68/163. The latter urged member states to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013. (Ferdinandh Cabrera / MindaNews)