Senator Grace Poe said on Tuesday that based on the records furnished by the Phiilippine National Police, not a single mastermind had been identified in several cases out of the 115 cases of media killings recorded since 2001.
Poe made the assertion following a presentation given by PNP Task Force Usig P/Supt. Henry Libay before the Senate committee on public order and mass media headed by the first-term senator.
In his presentation, Libay said that out of the 115 incidents covering the period January 1, 2001 to May 19, 2014, 48 were ‘work-related,’ 43 were not work-related, while 24 incidents involved non-practitioners or those who worked as drivers, messengers and others for media outfits.
Of the 48 work-related cases, Libay said, 36 had already been filed in court.
Twenty-two or 61% of the accused were civilians, seven (19%) were policemen, five (14%) were government officials while the other incident involved a soldier.
Libay added that of the 36 cases filed in court, 73 accused had been identified, 28 of which had been arrested; 13 surrendered, eight were convicted, while seven died while their cases were being heard. Nineteen of the accused remained at large.
Also based on PNP records, 27 media killings cases happened under President Benigno Aquino III’s administration in which 19 cases had already been filed in the courts.
But Poe said that although the police made some arrests and filed cases against the perpetrators the police failed to catch a single mastermind behind the killings.
Poe said that in 2014, there were nine incidents of attacks and threats against journalists and media workers, including three death threats, two physical assaults and two instances of being barred from covering events.
In 2013, there were 68 incidents of attacks and threats while 14 journalists were murdered.
Poe also said that based on data released by the Global Press Freedom Index, the Philippines was named as one of the most dangerous places for journalists.
This year, Poe said, the Philippines ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the same category as released by Paris-based press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
The New York-based Committee, meanwhile, ranked the Philippines as the 3rd worst in its “impunity index” of countries that had failed to combat violence against members of the press.
PNP Chief Alan Purisima was invited to attend Tuesday’s hearing to provide information on the real situation on media killings in the country and how the police are addressing the problem. Purisima, however, failed to show up.
Poe raised her concern over the escalating number of media killings and asked the PNP if it could come up with a system that would provide media a direct line to the police in times of threats and other emergencies.
“Media should have a direct line to the PNP. So that if there is any threat, they will feel they have protection,” Poe said. She added that it is important to establish a reliable direct line that the media can trust.
Poe also welcomed the suggestion of National Press Club president Joel Egco not to allow police to investigate incidents where the suspect is also a member of the PNP.
Egco, who was present during the Senate hearing, said that it would be better it other law enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation be put in charge of the investigation in cases that involve the police.
Records show that out of the 48 work-related killings, 19 percent or about seven incidents were allegedly carried out by policemen.
“Unfortunately, the police would be involved in some cases. It is important to establish a reliable direct line that the media can trust,” Poe said.
Aside from Purisima, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and NBI director Virgilio Mendez were also invited but likewise did not show up and instead sent their respective representatives.
The latest case of media killing involved Rubylita Garcia, A radio commentator of DWAD-Cavite and a correspondent FOR THE Remate tabloid.
Garcia was shot at close range in front of her house in Barangay Talaba in Bacoor, Cavite. Minutes before She died, she told her son Tristan that a police officer has masterminded her death.