Philippine Press Freedom Report 2009

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility

Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility: Philippine Press Freedom Report 2009 Published with the support of the Network Media Program, Open Society Institute

Copyright © 2010 By the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility ISSN 1908-8299 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher.

A grant from the Network Media Program of the Open Society Institute made this publication possible.

Melinda Quintos De Jesus Publisher

Luis V. Teodoro Editor

Melinda Quintos De Jesus Leo Dacera III Prima Jesusa B. Quinsayas Melanie Y. Pinlac Writers

Melanie Y. Pinlac Editorial assistant

Design Plus Cover and layout design

Lito Ocampo Melanie Y. Pinlac Photos


The Year That Was in the Philippine Press The Ampatuan Massacre: More Than Crime The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending Impunity in the Philippines The Prosecution and the Media: Getting Their Act Together Protecting Witnesses for the Prosecution List of Work-related Killings of Journalists and Media Workers Since 1986 1 15 27 37 45 51 56 71




HE KILLING OF 32 journalists and media workers in a single incident on Nov. 23, 2009 shocked both foreign observers as well as most Filipinos. But as has been remarked mostly on hindsight, the slaughter was an atrocity waiting to happen. The killing of journalists had after all been taking place with such regularity since 1986 that they were in danger of receding into the realms of forgetfulness to which too many Filipinos relegate crimes and other atrocities that defy remedy and understanding. Before Nov. 23, out of 81 killings since 1986, only three had been solved, and only partially in that the masterminds had yet to be tried and even arrested. Not only this sorry record encourages further killings. The resulting resignation and hopelessness among Filipinos that the killers of journalists and their masterminds can ever be brought to justice is also a self-fulfilling prophecy that helps sustain the culture of impunity. Largely unremarked in the media as well as in public discourse was the return of warlordism due to the feudal relations that obtain in the Philippine countryside. Those relations make the co-optation by local officials of the government-funded militias and even police and military officers and men inevitable, as does the corruption that allows the same officials to use government funds to arm their private armies—and, even more importantly, the Arroyo regime’s toleration of such warlord clans as the Ampatuans in exchange for their support in keeping the regime in power through various means. So certain were the perpetrators of the November 23 massacre of highlevel protection that they hardly bothered to hide their intent as well as the actual crime itself. After all, it was in furtherance of their remaining in power themselves—the necessary condition for them to provide the votes the regime needs in May 2010 as in 2004 and 2007—that they killed at least 57 men and women, of whom 32 were journalists and media workers, who were traveling to the provincial office of the Commission on Elections to file the certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor of Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife and women relatives were among those brutally murdered.


The killing of journalists in the Philippines is thus driven not only by local interests who fear exposure, and a crime sustained by a weak justice system; it is also symptomatic of a flawed political and social structure democratic in form but authoritarian in substance. The present Report, made possible by the support of the Open Society Institute, looks into the complexities of media defense within the particularities of the Philippine context, and provides the details of yet another year in which, because of the killing of journalists, press freedom remains under siege in the Philippines, with the difference that because of the November 23 Massacre, holding the line in defense of that freedom has become even more urgent.


The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

The Year That Was in the Philippine Press




HE AMPATUAN MASSACRE of 2009 is one more indication of the failure of democratic institutions in the Philippines. The massacre of at least 57 men and women including 32 journalists and media workers demonstrate the utter disrespect for freedom of the press and for the electoral process by powerful figures in the Philippine political arena.

The 32 journalists/media workers were covering the filing of the certificate of candidacy by Buluan town Vice-mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu in the town of Shariff Aguak. They joined the convoy headed by Mangudadatu’s wife, Bai Genalin, to the Commission of Elections satellite office in Shariff Aguak. But before reaching Shariff Aguak, the convoy was stopped and the 57 brutally murdered by armed men allegedly headed by Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. Ampatuan would have been the rival of Toto Mangudadatu in the gubernatorial race for Maguindanao in May 2010. (For more information on the murder case against Unsay, please visit A number of media organizations and journalists’ groups have warned practitioners of a spike in the number of attacks against journalists and media workers as the 2010 elections, the first fully automated elections in the Philippines, approached. Some of the killings of journalists in 2009 could in fact have also been election-related, the elections being, among other characteristics, crucial for the agenda of both the Arroyo regime and the reform candidates challenging it.

Other Incidents
Four other radio broadcasters were killed in 2009. CMFR research suggests that most of these incidents could also have been politically-motivated or election-related. On Christmas eve 2009, a gunman on a motorcycle shot Ismael Pasigna—one of the anchors of the local government-funded blocktime program “South Express Balita”—while he was on his way to work in Labason, Zamboanga del Norte at around 6:55 a.m. (local time). The incident happened around 30 kilometers from the house of town mayor Wilfredo Balais, where Pasigna had come from. Balais said Pasigna usually passed by his house before going


The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

to the radio station. A murder complaint has already been filed against the alleged gunman. Neneng, Pasigna’s widow, said that there was a possibility that the killing could be related to her husband’s radio work. Neneng said Pasigna had aired over radio a controversy regarding the filing of a certificate of candidacy by a political party in Zamboanga del Norte. Balais believes the incident to be politically-motivated. He claims that he received an anonymous text message after the killing of Pasigna saying that he would be the next victim. Both Pasigna and Balais are members of the Alliance Party for Progress, a local political party in Zamboanga del Norte. In a Jan. 13, 2010 interview, Police Inspector Chamber Lacay also said police investigation suggests that the incident was election-related. The other journalists killed in 2009 were Mindoro Occidental lawyerbroadcaster Crispin Perez, who was killed on June 9; Surigao del Sur broadcaster Godofredo Linao, killed on July 27; and Misamis Occidental broadcaster Ernesto Rollin, Feb. 3. (The Linao, Perez and Rollin cases have been filed before local courts. PO1 Darwin Quimoyog, the alleged gunman in the killing of Perez, was arraigned last Feb.19, 2010.) Aside from being killed, however, journalists and media workers were also attacked and threatened in 2009. For example, on March 5, 2009, Cagayan de Oro City-based Nilo Labares barely escaped death after a gunman shot him in the back. Labares, the head reporter of dxCC-Radio Mindanao Network , was known for his crusade against illegal gambling in Cagayan de Oro City. Labares has identified the gunman, who is allegedly in the pay of a local gambling lord.

Some Victories
There were some victories in the fight against impunity in the year 2009. The killers in the killing of two journalists were convicted last year. Before these two convictions, only in the cases of Edgar Damalerio, Marlene Esperat and George Benaojan had gunmen been convicted since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came to power in 2001.



In a decision dated Nov. 24, 2009, Branch 6 Judge Hipolito Bael Jr. of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Dipolog City found accused Robert “Wangyu” Woo guilty in the murder of Zamboanga del Norte broadcaster Klein Cantoneros. Cantoneros was killed on May 4, 2005 in Dipolog City by three assailants on a motorcycle. Woo was sentenced to a maximum imprisonment of 14 years, eight months and one day and was asked by the court to pay a death indemnity of P50,000, actual damages of P167,000, and moral damages of P50,000 to the family of Cantoneros. Woo was charged with “Murder Qualified by Treachery, Evident Premeditation and Abuse of Superior Strength”. Also in 2009, the RTC of Digos City convicted Joy Anticamara for the 2006 killing of radio broadcaster Armando Pace. But the charge against Anticamara had been downgraded to homicide because the prosecution had failed to prove evident premeditation and the aggravating circumstance of the use of a motorcycle. Evident premeditation pertains to “a finding that the accused made a decision to commit the crime prior to the moment of its execution and that this decision was the result of meditation, calculation or reflection, or persistent attempt (People v. Carillo, 77 Phil 579).” Pace was killed on July 18, 2006 minutes after he signed off from his dxDSRadyo Ukay program “Ukadyang”, slang in Davao for “ukaya” which means “stir up”. Pace was shot thrice by two men on a black motorcycle in Digos City, Davao del Sur. Note that several cases of murder have been transferred to safer trial venues after the Supreme Court, through its Court Administrators, approved the requests of the families of slain journalists and of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) in 2009. These include the murder cases of Esperat, Dennis Cuesta and of the attempted murder case against the attacker of broadcaster Labares.

Arrest Failures
Despite the issuance and re-issuance of arrest warrants against some of the alleged masterminds and killers of journalists, media practitioners and media workers, many remain free.


The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

The failure of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to arrest the suspects and accused persons has been noted and criticized by media practitioners and press freedom organizations. This prompted Arroyo to order during a meeting with media organizations last year the formation of “dedicated tracker teams” for each suspect in the killings of journalists. During a meeting with the representatives of media groups, the PNP Task Force Usig secretariat headed by Major Henry Libay said that the tracker teams were functional. Nonetheless, the press has still to see any result of the work of the tracker teams, especially in the cases of Cuesta where the suspect has been seen freely roaming General Santos City and of Esperat, where the alleged masterminds are said to be in Cotabato City, and who in fact have been reported to have returned to work. Meanwhile, throughout the year, Presidential Task Force Against Political Violence (popularly known as TF 211) had been announcing its speedy resolution of cases by simply filing charges against suspects.

Arrests Hampered
Despite frequent announcements that the authorities would arrest the alleged masterminds in the killing of Esperat, in December 2009 the Court of Appeals in Cagayan De Oro City issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the serving of the warrants of arrest against suspects Osmeña Montañer and Estrella Sabay. A preliminary injunction, according to Rule 58 of the Rules of Court, is “an order granted at any stage of an action prior to the final judgment, requiring a person to refrain from a particular act.” In a resolution by Associate Justice Elihu A. Ybañez, the Twenty-first Division of the Court of Appeals of Cagayan de Oro City stopped the implementation of the October 2008 arrest warrant issued by Tacurong City RTC Judge Milanio Guerrero against Montañer and Sabay. Esperat was killed on March 24, 2005 in front of her children in her home in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat province. The gunman and his accomplice pled guilty and were sentenced in October 2006. More than two years later, the prosecutors filed murder charges against Montañer and Sabay who allegedly masterminded the killing to retaliate for Esperat’s exposes of corruption in the Department of Agriculture in Region XII.



Meanwhile, the case against the alleged gunman in the killing of Fernando Lintuan was acquitted by the RTC Davao after the prosecution failed to present additional evidence against the accused. Lintuan was killed by a gunman on Dec. 24, 2007 in Davao City.

Legal Harassment
Even as the government claims victories in what it describes as a crusade for a better press environment, many powerful officials and personalities have also been harassing journalists through legal suits. The case of Joaquin Briones, journalist and publisher of a community newspaper in Masbate, escaped the attention of the Manila-based media advocacy organizations. In 2000, Briones was sentenced in absentia and spent more than five years in prison, serving longer than Alexander Adonis, whose case was the first known case of a media practitioner’s being imprisoned in a libel case. Briones was given parole in 2005. Four years after his parole, Briones and Ronnie Valladores, a columnist in the Masbate Tribune, are facing several counts of libel before a local court in Masbate. Briones was the former publisher of the Masbate Tribune. These libel cases were filed by Masbate Vice Governor Vicente Homer Revil and by the board of directors, employees and the lawyer of the Masbate Electric Cooperative (MASELCO) against Briones and Valladores. The libel complaint filed by Revil stemmed from Valladores’s column on the questionable issuance of an environmental compliance certification by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to a contractor of a coal-powered plant. The columnist criticized Revil’s failure to send to DENR the Provincial Board resolution against the construction of a coal-powered plant due to technical difficulties (e.g. the supposed lack of ink printer at his office). The board of directors, employees and the lawyer of the MASELCO on the other hand filed three separate libel complaints for Valladores’s column on the poor services rendered by the company published in the Masbate Tribune.


The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

Briones and Valladores were arraigned for the libel cases filed by MASELCO in January 2010. Meanwhile, they filed a petition before the DOJ Manila to review the local prosecutor’s recommendation to file Revil’s libel complaint before a local court. Aside from legal harassment, some government agencies have “infringed” on the right to information. Last September 2009, the Office of the Ombudsman suddenly drew up stringent rules regulating the release of the Statements of Assets and Liabilities and Networth (SALN) of government officials after reports on the alleged undeclared wealth of the Arroyos appeared in the media. In its Memorandum Circular 95-13, the Office of the Ombudsman said “Where the purpose stated is contrary to morals or public policy, or is commercial in nature other than by news and communications media for dissemination to the general public, the request shall be denied outright.” Journalists and other groups have pointed out that these guidelines infringe on the right of the public to access public documents such as SALNs. The Manila broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer in one of its editorials last September 2009 said: “The memorandum is unconstitutional and undemocratic. Unconstitutional because the Constitution recognizes ‘the right of the people to information on matters of public concern.’ Undemocratic because information is the oxygen of democracy; the citizens of a democratic nation cannot form intelligent opinions and make wise decisions unless they have the necessary information on which they can base their judgment on matters that affect them.”

Journalists and media organizations have expressed concern over the approval by the Senate of its version of a right of reply bill in 2008 and the eagerness of the House of Representatives to pass its own version in 2009. Both right of reply bills compel news organizations to publish replies from news subjects. Most of the provisions in Senate Bill no. 2150 and House Bill no. 3306 are the same, except in the proposed penalties. At one point, the House version included imprisonment as a penalty when a reply is not published. The latest House version has removed imprisonment terms and inserted the phrase “editorial discretion” as a condition for the publication of a reply.



Journalists foresee abuse of the right of reply law if passed. Nonoy Espina of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in a forum on the bills that a right of reply law is likely to be used to push the political agenda of some politicians. Espina said: “Once again, press freedom is under siege from political forces insidiously trying to further their personal agenda, this time through the legislature. Elections are coming up and enacting this bill into law will benefit those who want to deflect criticism and gain media mileage.” In several dialogues with politicians, journalist and media organizations were firm in their view that the bill should be rejected. They maintain that a right of reply law is unnecessary since presenting both sides of an issue and respecting the right of reply are among the ethical responsibilities of the press. Meanwhile, the bicameral committee report on the proposed Freedom of Information (FOI) Act is pending ratification at the House of Representatives. The Senate ratified the bicameral report in February 2010 before Congress went into recess. Once ratified by the House, the bicameral committee report will be forwarded to the President for enactment into law. In a letter to House Speaker Prospero Nograles, the Right to Know, Right Now, a network of media organizations and public interest groups pushing for the passage of the FOI Act, urged the House leadership to prioritize the ratification of the bicameral committee report on May 31, 2010 when the 14th Congress resumes sessions. The network said that “(t)he passage of the Freedom of Information Act is long overdue. It is a promise to the Filipino people that the Constitution assured in 1987, or 23 years ago, yet. Our people need and truly deserve this law. It is as well a demand of the times, a vote for good governance, democracy, and the people’s right to know.” It added that “(w)hen finally signed into law by the President, we have no doubt that the Freedom of Information Act will be a strategic and most significant contribution of the 14th Congress to the fundamental renewal of public institutions in our country.”


The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

International Attention
The international community has also raised concern over the problem of impunity in the killing of and attacks against journalists and media practitioners in the Philippines. Last March 2009, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) helped organize the anti-impunity mission of the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) to the Philippines. The SEAPA anti-impunity mission met with representatives from the two government task forces supposedly formed to bring the criminals to justice and to stop the killings—PNP Task Force Usig and TF 211. They also talked with FFFJ chair and counter-impunity officer Jose L. Pavia, FFFJ legal counsel Prima Jesusa Quinsayas, lawyer Nena Santos, and some legislators. Simultaneously, the Committee to Protect Journalists also launched its Global Impunity Index for 2009 in Manila with the help of CMFR and FFFJ. CMFR also helped CPJ representatives get in touch with local authorities such as Supreme Court spokesperson Midas Marquez. They also attended some of the SEAPA mission’s meetings.


PHILIPPINE PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2009 The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

(Updated as of January 2010)

All journalists killed since 1986 by Motive
non-work related 53 (32%)

work related 114 (68%)

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has recorded 167 cases of killing of Filipino journalists/media workers since 1986.

*More detailed information may be accessed at


PHILIPPINE PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2009 The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

Journalists killed in the line of duty since 1986

Of the 167 journalists/media workers killed since 1986, 114 were killed because of their work. Seventy-six out of the 114 work-related cases happened during the Arroyo administration (February 2001-present). The number of journalists/media workers who were killed jumped to 113 after 32 were massacred in Maguindanao in November 2009. With 36 journalists/media workers killed, 2009 had the most number of Filipino journalists/media workers killed in history.

Journalists/media workers killed in the line of duty by administration


PHILIPPINE PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2009 The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

Journalists/media workers killed in the line of duty since 1986 by region or place of killing


10 4 1

9 3 4 6 2 2

11 8 4

10 3 3

Most of the journalists/media workers killed in the line of duty since 1986 were based in the provinces. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao registered the most number (34) of work-related killings since 1986.

Filipino journalists/media workers killed in the line of duty by island group
Luzon 34 (30%)

Mindanao 70 (61%)

Visayas 10 (9%)


PHILIPPINE PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2009 The Year That Was in the Philippine Press

Filipino journalists/media workers killed in the line of duty by gender
Female 8 (7%)

Male 106 (93%)

One hundred and six (93 percent) of the 114 journalists/media workers killed in the line of duty since 1986 were male.

Journalists/media practioners killed in the line of duty since 1986 by medium

Most of the journalists and media workers killed in the line of duty worked solely for print (48 of the 114 or 42 percent), followed by those who worked for radio (42). The number of print journalists who were killed increased after the Maguindanao massacre where most (24 out of the 32 fatalities) were working solely for print. This includes Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay whose body has yet to be found.


The Ampatuan Massacre: More Than Crime


The Ampatuan Massacre: More Than Crime


HE MASS MURDER of at least 57 people in Maguindanao province, including 32 journalists/media workers, and the events that followed it highlight the weaknesses of Philippine democracy — the lack of respect for human as well as electoral rights and press freedom by those in power, and the culture of impunity that thrives in the country. But it was an attack not only on the media, but also on what has passed for democracy in the Philippines. What’s more, the Maguindanao massacre may be a foreboding of what may happen in the 2010 elections. The massacre happened only three days after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) officially declared open the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (CoC) for the 2010 national and local elections. The fear by media organizations and journalist groups on the possible escalation of violence against journalists and media practitioners, especially in the provinces, materialized on the ill-fated day of Nov. 23. That event made further and even worse violence more possible. But it also highlights the long-ignored issues of political dynasties and warlords, the proliferation of private armies in the provinces, and the negligence and lack of political will of the national government.

What Happened
On Nov. 23, the wife and sisters of Datu Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, the current vice mayor of Buluan town, were supposed to file his CoC at Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao province. Vice-mayor Mangudadatu would be going head to head against an Ampatuan, the ruling family in Maguindanao, in the provincial gubernatorial race. Knowing that the Ampatuans and their allies have run unopposed in the recent elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Mangudadatu’s filing was indeed news. Any journalist in the area would cover this event. The fact-finding and humanitarian mission of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and MindaNews found that as early as Nov. 20, Vice-mayor Mangudadatu had



announced that he would be filing his CoC on Nov. 23. Accounts by colleagues of the slain journalists show that during the Kalimudan festival in Sultan Kudarat, the Mangudadatus had invited journalists and media practitioners to cover the filing. An article by Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Aquiles Zonio said that the journalists had raised the issue of security to the Mangudadatus before leaving Buluan town last Nov. 23. “An intense yet cordial exchange of ideas ensued as this reporter (Zonio), (Alejandro “Bong”) Reblando and two other journalists discussed with ARMM Assemblyman Khadafy Mangudadatu the security concerns and the scenarios that may arise later that day,” he wrote in his Nov. 24 article. Zonio was one of the three journalists who decided not to join the convoy. The Mangudadatus allegedly tried to ask for security support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police units in the province. But both law enforcement agencies declined. So instead of Toto Mangudadatu going to Shariff Aguak to personally file his CoC, he decided to send his wife Bai Genalin “Gigi” Mangudadatu, and sisters Bai Farinah and Bai Eden instead to file the CoC for him, with the journalists and lawyers as company. The Mangudadatus in several interviews said no member of the convoy was armed to avoid any clash with the forces of the Ampatuans. Tension between the Ampatuans and the Mangudadatus had intensified in the past few months after Vice-mayor Toto Mangudadatu announced his intention to run against the Ampatuans in the gubernatorial race. The Mangudadatu convoy never reached the municipality of Shariff Aguak. The supposed peaceful filing led to the most dreadful event in the Philippines since the restoration of democracy in the country. The Mangudadatu convoy and several civilians who were just passing through were intercepted at a police checkpoint in Ampatuan town and later killed by a private army of 100 men allegedly led by Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. Worse, the perpetrators tried to cover up the incident by burying the bodies and cars of the victims in pits dug with the use of a government-owned backhoe.


The Ampatuan Massacre: More Than Crime

The massacre put the Philippines on top of the list of the most dangerous places for working journalists. In 2009, 36 journalists and media workers were killed in the line of duty, an unprecedented record in terms of the number of journalists killed per year in the Philippines or anywhere else. (The count includes Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay who was killed in the Ampatuan Massacre but whose body has yet to be found, and Ismael Pasigna, a radio blocktimer in Zamboanga del Norte who was killed on Dec. 24, 2009.) The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) had monitored three work-related cases before the massacre. The year 2009 would have been one of the years with a relative low number of killings since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became president in 2001. Before 2009, the highest number of workrelated killings was in 2004, an election year, when eight journalists/media practitioners were killed in separate incidents. (CMFR has pointed out that two of three cases before the Ampatuan Massacre were possibly electionrelated. Broadcaster-lawyer Crispin Perez and broadcaster Godofredo Linao were known critics of local politicians in their respective provinces. Both Perez and Linao had been government officials.) Thirty-two of the 36 journalists/media workers killed in the line of duty in 2009 were from the Ampatuan Massacre. Based on the data gathered by the FFFJNUJP-MindaNews fact-finding and humanitarian mission to Maguindanao, 16 Mindanao-based publications, a television station, four radio stations, and one wire agency lost employees. Three of these 16 publications were part of the publishing house of Freddie Solinap, the publisher and editor of the Koronodal City-based weekly Periodico Ini. Solinap had no idea his staff would be joining the Mangudadatus in filing the CoCs. “’Yun lang ang araw na hindi sila nagpaalam. Pagdating ko na lang sa opisina doon ko na nalaman (That was the only time they did not inform me. When I arrived at the office, that’s when I learned about it),” Solinap told CMFR in an interview last Dec. 4. “Naintindihan ko na hindi sila nagpaalam kasi biglaan ‘yung pag-invite sa kanila (I understand that they were not able to inform me because the invitation was unexpected).”



Solinap’s business operations have been paralyzed. He plans to change the name of his Periodico Ini after some time. “Kapag kasi ‘Periodico Ini’ pa rin, hindi ako makakatrabaho. Maaala-ala ko ang mga tao kong namatay (If the name remains ‘Periodico Ini,’ I will not be able to work. I will always remember my staff members who died).” Almost all the staff members of his three newspapers were killed in the massacre, including his circulation manager Noel Decena for Rapido, his account executive for Periodico Ini Fernando “Ranny” Razon and his associate editor Rey Merisco. Solinap is assisting the families of his staff members. When the families expressed concern about and fear in pursuing the case, Solinap said: “Bakit tayo matakot? Tayo na ang namatayan, tayo pa ang matakot? Dapat sila ang matakot (Why should we be afraid? We are the ones who have lost loved ones, and we are the ones are afraid? It is them who should be afraid).”

Unnecessary Response
But finding justice for the victims will not be easy, as in the other cases of journalists/media practitioners killed in the Philippines. Seemingly without any other recourse, the national government opted to put the provinces of Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat as well as Cotabato City under its favorite remedy, a state of emergency, to allegedly solve the massacre. But a few days after, perhaps wanting to quickly discourage the notion that her government was not too enthusiastic in finding and prosecuting the killers and masterminds, Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation no. 1959 which placed the two provinces and the city under martial rule and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. But rather than solve the problem of private armies and lawlessness, which the regime itself had tolerated, the declaration of martial law succeeded in overshadowing the issue of legal difficulties in pinning down the suspects and masterminds in the Ampatuan Massacre. For example, the alleged mishandling of the evidence and the crime scene was sidetracked by the ensuing debate over the legality and intent of the


The Ampatuan Massacre: More Than Crime

declaration. Several groups including the fact-finding team of the FFFJ-NUJPMindaNews saw how poorly law enforcement agencies and other agencies involved treated the scene. In its report, the FFFJ-NUJP-MindaNews fact-finding team said that “The retrieval team from the military and police was clearly assigned to achieve only one task: get the bodies out. There was little or no consideration given to preserving the evidence. There was little or no consideration given to avoid the contamination of the crime scene.” But the attention of the public and the press was focused on what the Armed Forces of the Philippines was doing in Maguindanao—the filing of rebellion charges against the Ampatuans, the invitations for Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. and the raids on the houses of the Ampatuans in Maguindanao and Davao.

Media’s Response
As always, civil society and media had to fill the gaps left behind by the government. Local media organizations immediately organized themselves to respond to the needs of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre. Last Nov. 29, several media organizations including CMFR, NUJP, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP, Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines) and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) formed the November 23 Movement. The November 23 Movement is a loose coalition calling for an independent investigation into the massacre in Maguindanao. Countrywide, NUJP and its chapters held protest actions to show support for the families and colleagues of the slain journalists and media workers. Meanwhile, international media organizations and press freedom advocates joined the protests against the massacre in Maguindanao and called for a speedy resolution of the case. Forty-seven members of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange signed a petition calling for a swift and comprehensive investigation into the



Maguindanao massacre. In the letter addressed to Philippine authorities, the group said: “Whatever the motives, the Philippine government must work swiftly and with urgency to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice. Beyond what is attributed to election-related violence and the reality of ‘warlordism’ in the Philippines, we urge the Philippine government to address the larger problem of impunity that festers in Philippine society. It is this environment, where violence and crime go unpunished, that leads to tragedies such as what befell our colleagues in Maguindanao. It is the same toxic environment for which the government itself must be held accountable and should take responsibility.” Media and civil society organizations around the world led by the International Federation of Journalists held protests on Dec. 9, which was the Global Day of Action against Impunity. As early as Nov. 24, the Alliance of Independent Journalists in Indonesia had rallied in front of the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta to condemn the massacre. Several missions to Maguindanao have also been activated after the massacre to observe the investigations and to provide legal and financial support to the families of the victims.

Humanitarian Assistance
Aside from protest actions, several media organizations also offered humanitarian and legal assistance to the families of the slain journalists. The FFFJ has coordinated with several international organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Open Society Institute for possible assistance to the victims’ loved ones and to the progress of the cases against the alleged perpetrators. The NUJP has offered to include the children of slain journalists in its scholarship program and are working with child psychologists to help the families deal with the trauma. NUJP is also coordinating with the Inquirer. Employees of the GMA-7 news and public affairs department have donated more than a million pesos to the FFFJ specifically to be used in assisting the


The Ampatuan Massacre: More Than Crime

families of the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. The Lopez Foundation also gave P1 million pesos to FFFJ for the same purpose. The ABS-CBN Bantay Bata Foundation has set aside P1 million pesos for the education of children. Mabuting Pilipino, a non-government organization which “advocates good governance, national discipline and transparency in government,” also offered college scholarships.

Legal updates
As of February 2010, Quezon City RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes has indefinitely postponed the bail proceedings until she has decided on the defense’s motion for recusation asking her to inhibit from hearing the case. A total of 197 persons including Unsay, his father Andal Sr. and brothers are facing multiple murder cases before the RTC Quezon City Branch 221. The Department of Justice has filed a total of 57 counts of murder against the alleged perpetrators.


PHILIPPINE PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2009 The Ampatuan Massacre: More Than Crime

(Updated as of Jan. 18, 2010)
Based on interviews with the families and colleagues of the victims, the fact-finding and humanitarian mission of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, the online news magazine MindaNews, and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines confirmed the identities of 32 out of the alleged 34 journalists/media workers who supposedly joined the Mangudadatu convoy to Shariff Aguak. The 32 slain journalists/media workers include Midland Review’s Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay whose body is still missing. (His dentures were found at the crime scene.)

Victims of the Ampatuan Massacre

Mangudadatus and civilians 26 (46%)

Media workers 31 (54%)

Scene of the Crime Operatives recovered 57 bodies. Thirty-one of the 57 bodies recovered in the site of the Ampatuan Massacre (or 54 percent) were those of media workers.

Please note that the graphs in the next two pages include Momay, making the count 32 journalists/media workers.


PHILIPPINE PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2009 The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending

Media Victims by Gender

Female 4 (12%)

Male 28 (88%)

Twenty-eight of the 32 media practitioners (or 88 percent) killed were male. Four were female.

By Place of Residence







Most of the media practitioners killed were based in General Santos City (15 out of the 32 or 47 percent).


PHILIPPINE PRESS FREEDOM REPORT 2009 The Ampatuan Massacre: More Than Crime

Victims by Medium

Seventy-five percent (or 24) of the media practitioners killed were working solely for print news organizations.

News organizations affected

Most of the journalists killed worked for Mindanao-based newspapers (16). Some of the journalists/media workers killed worked for two news organizations. Only one victim, Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, worked for a wire agency (stringer of Reuters) and the Manila Bulletin. All UNTV General Santos City staff who joined were killed.

The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending



The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending


The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending


HE INVESTIGATION ON the November 23 massacre of at least 57 persons has led to the filing of charges against Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. and other members of the Ampatuan clan including their patriarch Andal Sr. The Ampatuans, the leading political clan in Maguindanao province and in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), have held crucial positions, elective or otherwise, in the government for the past decade. The Ampatuans—who have run unopposed in Maguindanao for several elections—are believed to have built a powerful private army and have had a huge influence over other politicians in the region. They are also believed to be staunch political allies of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and allegedly helped her win the 2004 presidential elections.

The Multiple Murder Case Against Unsay
The testimonies of witnesses and evidence gathered by the prosecution allege that Datu Unsay led around 100 armed men in the abduction and killing last Nov. 23 of the members of the convoy led by the wife of his supposed rival for the Maguindanao gubernatorial race, Buluan town Vice-mayor Datu Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu. The fatalities include 32 journalists and media workers who were on their way to cover the filing of Mangudadatu’s Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) at the regional Commission of Elections office based in Shariff Aguak. By Dec. 1—five days after Unsay’s Inquest—the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution panel led by Senior State Prosecutor Leo Dacera had filed 25 counts of murder before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cotabato City Branch 15. At that time only 25 autopsy reports had been issued by the authorities. Prosecutors Dacera, Al Calica, Felipe Vicente Velasco, Elmer Lastimosa, and Edilberto Jamora composed the prosecution panel assigned by then DOJ secretary Agnes Devanadera to process the inquest papers against Unsay. Unsay underwent inquest proceedings on Nov. 26 after his surrender to Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza. A judge from Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat was initially designated by the Supreme Court to handle the case. But the prosecution felt it was necessary to ask the Supreme Court to transfer the case to a court in Metro Manila



because of possible threats to the lives of the witnesses and the prosecutors. The Supreme Court on Dec. 7 acted on the prosecution’s petition and ordered the transfer of the case to RTC Quezon City. After the controversial refusal of the first judge the case was raffled to, the case is now with Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes of Branch 221. Judge Reyes is currently hearing the petition for bail filed by the lawyers of Unsay. Unsay was the only one named in the 56 Informations (Criminal Cases nos. Q-09-162148 to 162172, 162216 to 162231, and Q-10-162652 to 162666 People of the Philippines vs. Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. and John Does). Unsay has been under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) since Nov. 26, 2009. The prosecution panel has presented a total of eight witnesses including Vice-mayor Mangudadatu, Ampatuan town Vice-mayor Rasul Sangki, his uncle Mohammad Sangki and NBI Anti-Terrorist Unit chief Ricardo Diaz.

Additional Perpetrators Named
A day before the sixth hearing on the petition for bail filed by Unsay, another DOJ special panel of prosecutors led by Senior State Prosecutor Rosanne Balauag filed Amended Informations for multiple murder against 197 others including Unsay and several police and military officers for the Maguindanao incident. The Amended Informations stemmed from the amended complaint filed by the NBI and a separate complaint filed by the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) before the DOJ Manila panel last December 2009. The first preliminary hearing was held on Dec. 18. The 196 persons charged with Unsay include: Andal Sr.; Datu Zaldy “Puti” Ampatuan; Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan, Sr.; Datu Jimmy Ampatuan; Datu Kanor Ampatuan; Datu Bahnarin Ampatuan; Datu Mama Ampatuan; Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan; Datu Anwar Ampatuan; Datu Saudi Ampatuan Jr.; Datu Ulo Ampatuan; Datu Ipi Ampatuan; Datu Harris Ampatuan; Datu Moning Ampatuan; Datu Norodin “Nords” Datumanong Ampatuan; Police Chief Insp. Zukarno/Sukarno Dicay; Police Insp. Rex Ariel Diongon; Police Insp. Michael Joy Macaraeg; and Police Insp. Saudi Mokamad/Mukamad.


The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending

In its Joint Resolution dated Feb. 5, the panel said evidence on record showed the existence of a conspiracy. “The confluence of events before and immediately after the commission of the offense leads us to no other inference than respondents Andal U. Ampatuan Sr., Datu Zaldy “Puti” U. Ampatuan, Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan Sr., Datu Norodin Ampatuan and Datu Jimmy Ampatuan connived with the actual perpetrators.” (According to Article 8 of the Revised Penal Code, conspiracy “exists when two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of a felony and decide to commit it.”) The panel also said it was “appalling that there is viable evidence to prove that some members of the (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), organizations whose primary task is to ensure a more effective, sustained and successful campaign against criminality, dipped their fingers in the preparation and subsequent consummation of the despicable killing of the victims.” Andal Sr., Zaldy, and other Ampatuans accused are detained in General Santos City and Davao City after being charged with rebellion in December 2009.

Deferment of Bail Proceedings
The filing of the Amended Informations has led to an unforeseen development in the trial against Unsay: the deferment of the hearing on his bail petition. Before the court could proceed with the presentation of prosecution witnesses last Feb. 10, 2010, defense lawyer Philip Sigfrid Fortun asked the court for a sidebar to discuss his proposition to postpone the presentation of witnesses that day and on the next scheduled hearing date (Feb. 17) to give way to the consolidation of the amended informations on the ongoing multiple murder case against Unsay and several John Does. After the sidebar, both the prosecution and defense panels agreed to resume bail proceedings on Feb. 24. (A sidebar is an off-the-record conference with the presiding judge and the counsels of both parties, in this case, the prosecution and defense.) Days before the Feb. 9 hearing, the defense filed two motions before the court: (1) a motion for recusation, asking Judge Reyes to inhibit herself from



hearing the case because of her alleged bias against accused Unsay and for “committing serious misconduct in disregarding simple evidentiary rules” and (2) a fourth motion for a show cause order against some members of the prosecution panel claiming their appearance in several media shows and publications constitute a violation of the sub-judice rule. (The sub-judice rule prohibits the airing or publication of views and information tending to influence the outcome of a hearing or trial.)

Other Developments
A witness, Police Officer Anwar Masukat, executed an affidavit of recantation on Jan. 13. In his recantation—which was presented by defense lawyer Philip Pantojan in Davao City while the bail hearing was ongoing in Manila—Masukat claimed he was forced by the PNP-CIDG into signing his Dec. 12 affidavit. GMANews.TV in its Jan. 20 report quoted him as saying: “Realizing that the affidavit did not contain my truthful statement, I adamantly refused to sign it. It was then that (SPO2 Larry Diaz) and (lawyer Armando Fabros) told me that murder cases will be filed against me and that they could not prevent that from happening unless I sign the counter-affidavit they had prepared and willfully falsify statements.” (“DOJ: Cop’s recantation in massacre case no big loss”, The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) has asked the PNP to explain why Masukat, who was supposedly under restrictive custody in Camp Crame, was able to go to Davao City and issue a recantation. The PNP had announced earlier that all personnel allegedly involved in the murder are under restrictive custody. “It is disturbing that the PNP, already taking much of the negative publicity because many of its officers and personnel allegedly took part in said massacre, appears unable to keep track of the whereabouts of its men. Worse, the PNP’s inaction indicates it is either helpless and cannot hold its men accountable for their actions or that it is part of what appears to be an attempt to whitewash the whole matter,” FFFJ wrote in its letter dated Feb. 5. “Adding to the irregularities surrounding this incident is the fact that the affidavit was not executed before any member of the DOJ panel of prosecutors


The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending

before whom the complaints against PO1 Masukat are pending.” (The PNP has yet to respond to the FFFJ letter.) The prosecution also filed a motion to cite Pantojan in contempt. The prosecution in its motion said Pantojan’s presentation of the recantation of Masukat undermines the administration of justice. Meanwhile, the Center for International Law (CenterLaw) filed in behalf of some relatives of the media victims several petitions: one is before the Commission of Appointments; another before the Office of the Ombudsman in Davao; and one before the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). The Jan. 12 petition before the Commission of Appointments questioned the promotion of Major General Alfredo Cayton as Vice-commander of the Philippine Army. In its 32-page petition, the relatives of the 13 media victims said Cayton “miserably failed to prevent the the massacre of the journalists and innocent women within his area of direct responsibility.” They also argued that the Commission on Appointments should deny the promotion because: “The security situation—and the lives of all the people on that ill-fated convoy—became his direct responsibility once he received the call from Manila Bulletin correspondent Alejandro ‘Bong’ Reblando for security escorts. He could not wash his hands of that responsibility by a simple declaration that he had no men to send out. At the very least, he should have called the attention of his police counterparts about the security situation occasioned by the filing of the CoC of Vice-mayor Mangudadatu in the heart of the bailiwick of the Ampatuans to coordinate a joint security cordon.” The families also filed a complaint-affidavit against Cayton and Geslani before the Ombudsman for violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act [RA] 3019) and of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713). On Feb. 3, CenterLaw also filed a preliminary petition before the AIHRC asking it to “issue an urgent declaration calling on the Philippine State to abide with its obligations under international law and ensure the prosecution and conviction of the perpetrators of the massacre as well as the provision of



adequate reparations, including compensation and satisfaction, to the victims and their heirs.” The rebellion case against the Ampatuans, on the other hand, has also been transferred from the RTC Davao City to RTC Quezon City Branch 77. The first hearing in the sala of presiding judge Vivencio Baclig was held last Feb. 12, 2010.


The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending



November 26

Datu Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. undergoes inquest proceedings at the General Santos City airport before being transported to Manila. The Department of Justice (DOJ) special prosecution panel led by Senior State Prosecutor Leo Dacera III files the first batch of Informations (25 cases) for multiple murder against Unsay Ampatuan before Cotabato Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 15. The Supreme Court assigns Tacurong RTC Judge Milanio Guerrero as special judge to handle the case in Cotabato City.

December 1

December 3

The DOJ panel asks the Supreme Court to transfer the venue of the case to a court in Metro Manila. The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines also request the same on Dec. 7. Accused Unsay files a petition for bail before the Cotabato City RTC. On Dec. 4, Judge Guerrero holds in abeyance the hearing on the petition pending an SC resolution on the petition for transfer of venue filed by the prosecution.

December 7 December 8

DOJ panel files opposition to Unsay’s petition for bail. Sitting en banc, the Supreme Court grants the petition for change of venue. The prosecution learns of the decision on Dec. 10. Additional 15 Informations are filed before the RTC of Cotabato City. DOJ panel in Manila headed by Senior State Prosecutor Rosanne Balauag holds the first hearing in the preliminary investigation on two new complaints naming other possible respondents (still including Unsay) filed separately by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Additional 16 Informations are filed before the RTC in Quezon City Branch 221. This brings to 56 the total counts of murder filed against Unsay. (The murder case for UNTV anchor Victor Nuñez has yet to be filed. The delay came from the dispute over the identities of some remains of the Maguindanao massacre victims.) (Under Philippine law, no case can be filed for Midland Review photographer Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay because fact of death cannot be established. Momay’s body has not yet been found.)

December 9 December 18

December 21

December 28

The second hearing in the preliminary investigation is held.





January 5

Unsay is arraigned for 41 counts of murder, to all of which he pleads “not guilty.” The 15 Informations filed on Dec. 9 are still with RTC Cotabato, pending an SC resolution stating these Informations are included among those transferred to the QC RTC. The RTC also hears Unsay’s petition for bail. The first prosecution witness for the bail proceedings is lawyer Ricardo Diaz of the NBI. Lawyer Herminio Harry Roque files in behalf of his clients a motion to transfer Unsay from the NBI detention center to the Quezon City Jail. The motion did not bear signatures of the public prosecutors, as required under the rules of court.

January 13

The prosecution presents Ampatuan town vice-mayor Rasul Sangki, who allegedly saw Unsay order and lead the killing of at least 57 people on Nov. 23, 2009. He testifies that he was called to Sitio Masalay by Unsay Ampatuan to participate in the killings. He is the first prosecution witness to testify on Unsay Ampatuan’s presence at the massacre site.

January 18

Private prosecutors Nena Santos and Prima Jesusa Quinsayas, with the agreement of public prosecutor Al Calica, file a motion before the RTC Cotabato City Branch 15 asking the same to transmit court records of the 15 Informations for consolidation with the 41 being heard before the RTC Quezon City Branch 221. The prosecution presents the videographer who took footage of the retrieval of the corpses and vehicles on Nov. 24 and 25, 2009. The prosecution presents Mohammad Sangki, uncle of Vicemayor Rasul Sangki. Mohammad’s testimony corroborates Rasul Sangki’s claim that Unsay was among those who massacred the members of the Mangudadatu convoy including 32 media workers. The prosecution presents representatives from Smart and Globe telecommunications to verify the time and date of the calls allegedly made by Bai Genalin “Gigi” Mangudadatu to her husband, Buluan town Vice-mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, when the former’s convoy was blocked by Unsay and armed men. The prosecution presents Toto Mangudadatu. He testifies on the political history of the Ampatuan and Magudadatu clans, and on the motive for the massacre.

January 20 January 27


The Ampatuan Trial: Resolutions Pending


A TIMELINE OF EVENTS IN THE MULTIPLE MURDER CASE AGAINST DATU ANDAL “UNSAY” AMPATUAN JR. (AND OTHER RELATED COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE AMPATUANS) Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes announces receipt of the 15 Informations from the Cotabato RTC. Accused Unsay is arraigned for the same, to all of which he pleaded “not guilty.” The presentation of Toto Mangudadatu continues. The prosecution presents Dr. Ricardo Rodaje, the NBI medico-legal officer who examined the remains of Gigi Mangudadatu.

February 3

February 9

The DOJ Manila special panel of prosecutors handling the additional NBI and CIDG complaints on the Maguindanao massacre files Amended Informations for multiple murder against Unsay and 196 perpetrators including his father Andal Ampatuan Sr. The bail proceedings are suspended but will continue on Feb. 24, in light of the filing by the DOJ panel of the amended Informations naming 196 additional accused. The deferment was requested by the defense. Judge Reyes announces the indefinite postponement of the bail proceedings, pending resolution of motion for recusation filed by the lawyers of Unsay Ampatuan, motion to admit Amended Informations filed by the prosecution, and other pending motions filed by the defense. As of March 19, the bail proceedings were still suspended.

February 10

February 24



Impunity in the Philippines
by Melinda Quintos de Jesus


Impunity in the Philippines

N MAY 21 to 23, 2007, the Southeast Asia Press Alliance convened the first meeting of international legal academics along with lawyers and advocates of media freedom of expression in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines to explore the possibility of organizing more effective ways of providing for legal defense of journalists in the region. That first meeting planned a series of conferences, the first of which was held in Hong Kong. In 2009, the second Media Defense Litigation Conference was organized by the Manila-based Center for International Law in Cebu last Oct. 27 to 29. In her address to the conference, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) executive director Melinda Quintos de Jesus reviewed some aspects of impunity as experienced in the Philippines, pointing out that the Philippine context may be found also in countries where governments officially control the media and restrain civil liberties or in developing democracies where policy and implementation have yet to create a coherent framework for their protection. I think it is important that we keep the issue of impunity firmly rooted in the broad landscape of concerns for media defense. Understanding impunity will force a more varied response to attacks and threats against the press as an institution and against individual journalists. Hopefully, it will be a societal response, involving various sectors in the defense and support of the press as an institution which serves as a pillar of democracy as a political system and as a vital feature of democracy as a way of life. The word “impunity” refers to the failure of the state to punish criminal and unlawful conduct. But the impact of that failure, or the result, may not always be fully understood. We need to realize that such consistent failure evolves into a state of lawlessness, the repeated and cyclical experience of crime from day to day, its perpetration permeating and corrupting every system and contaminating even the most routine transactions of daily life. Discussing media defense without mention of impunity is to ignore and refuse to talk about the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the room. It is a failure to recognize the monster in our midst. Some of you attended the International Conference on Impunity in Manila in 2008. That meeting presented the parallel experiences of continuing attacks and threats against the press in countries on the two sides of the Pacific— Latin America and the Philippines. We saw then how The Inter-American Press




Association had succeeded in joining their different organizations together to act as a united front to defend la libertad de la prensa in any country in Central and South America where their members are besieged.

Killings and Other Attacks and Threats
In the Philippines, attacks and threats against journalists persist in various forms. The killing of journalists is an outrage and a scandal, especially when seen against the libertarian breadth of our laws to protect freedom of expression and press freedom. There have been years where the numbers of Filipino journalists killed were comparable to those killed in Iraq when that country was at war. No one was counting those slain during the period of Martial Law for obvious reasons. But the exercise has become quite systematic with the restoration of democracy and the opening up of democratic space. CMFR first conducted an analysis of reported cases of the killings in 1991, five years after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship. CMFR recorded 32 killings from 1986 when People Power events in February toppled the Marcos dictatorship up to August 1991. Twenty-two of these cases were classified as deaths in the line of duty. The facts could not be conclusively determined for six other murders and personal issues were involved in four. At the time of our report, no assassin in any of these cases had ever been brought to trial. Twelve years later, in January 2003, a network of media associations and media NGOs joined to form a network called the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) to provide assistance for legal defense and prosecution of cases of killings and humanitarian assistance to families of the slain. Since then, FFFJ has extended support for victims of the slain as well as for prosecution of cases and brought the suspects in two murders in Mindanao to trial and conviction, the killers of Edgar Damalerio in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur and Marlene Esperat in Tacurong City, the province of Sultan Kudarat. The latter case is still in court on a second phase to prosecute the suspected masterminds, the first time ever that alleged masterminds have been identified and brought to trial. Unfortunately, the police have not been able to arrest the suspects. FFFJ support has also been given to 10 other cases still being tried in court.


Impunity in the Philippines

The killings have continued and the current count now totals 167, of which 114 have been determined by CMFR as work-related. Obviously, our efforts have not put a stop to killings. We expect that these will continue because successful trials, while constituting a significant part of what needs to be done, are only a small part of the solution.

The Culture of Impunity
The killing of journalists is a horror. But this must be seen as yet another facet of the culture of violence, a reflection of a conflict-ridden society, without the corrective and stabilizing force of the rule of law. Impunity (the failure of the state to punish) is what allows the perpetrators of evil to evade and escape the reach of law and thereby to persist at the very core, the heart of society. This culture cannot be changed in just a few years. I know now that in my lifetime, we will be able to claim only small victories. A paid assassin may spend the rest of his life in jail. A hired gun is captured and kept out of the business of death-dealing. But I do not imagine that these cases have dented the supply of available hired killers. The killing of media members holds up the mirror to the failure of the state to enforce the law, and the floundering of a flawed and decrepit judicial system. As advocates for press freedom, we have had to step into unknown territory and go beyond the usual tasks of advocacy: to publicize or plead the cause of another, to espouse and call for justice in the name of the latest victim, to keep the names of the dead alive while his or her killer runs free. FFFJ raises money for prosecution; its members observe trials, and visit with witnesses to try and sustain their commitment to testify. We identify legal counsels. We document and we report the progress or lack of progress in the cases. I am aware that however futile some of these motions may be, there would be even less of a chance of bringing a journalist’s killer to court without these efforts.



Weaknesses of Legal Education
Like many of the most serious problems in this country, we run against a wall of contradictions and situations laden with deep irony. In this country, we celebrate a free and vibrant press the celebrity members of whom are lionized and celebrated. But the same country has been ranked with countries at war for the number of journalists killed. In this country, we are not short of lawyers, in quality or quantity. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines counts over 50,000 lawyer members. Each year, some 100 law schools graduate an average of 1,400 who will review for the bar exams. While there are numerous lawyers, a relatively small number have made themselves available to do media defense or have the experience to litigate these cases. The lawyers who work for established national news organizations are often experts in corporate law who then take on the defense of the company and its members, when libel charges take them to court. Government has created more congressional districts so there are more lawmakers in parliament. But such legal abundance has not saved us from the serious deficit in “the rule of law.” It may be offensive to describe the national situation in these terms in a lawyers’ forum. But this is a reality that lies at the heart of the problem that has brought us together here for the next three days. In one of CMFR’s initial meetings with lawyers, we ventured to examine the legal education curriculum, the way law schools educate Filipino lawyers and judges. We found that another weakness lies in the failure of these schools to incorporate more effectively courses in freedom of expression. And so, I remind this forum that we need still to call on lawyer academics to work with us in creating curricula that will create liberal legal minds, not just law students who will pass the bar. The pursuit of the suspected masterminds in the killing of Esperat has taken legal teams to courts in three provinces in the South, including the courts here in Cebu. I will not take your time with the legal niceties of this case. But I am sure you will agree when briefed on these cases that the lawyers on the side of


Impunity in the Philippines

the defense have well earned their keep, using every legal technicality to keep the suspects out of court.

Weakness of Witness Protection Program
Another irony in this law-forsaken country is the weakness of our witness protection program. In this country, quite a bit of time is given to talk. We talk a lot and pass on information—“You know. . . but it didn’t come from me. . .” Many people know. But the police seem to be the last to know. In such a situation, it is easy to understand why there are few who are willing to testify. Truth-telling, testifying and witnessing take these individuals on perilous ground. A witness protection program must beg for funds to provide the witnesses for their needs. In the case of the Damalerio killing, one of the witnesses was killed before he could testify. In the cases FFFJ has assisted to bring to court at this point, two witnesses have recanted, pressured by relatives who have been pressured by the other side. Witnesses in two other cases have experienced various pressures to shake down their testimonies. Even with the best support to protect them, witnesses are robbed of their own lives as they knew it, and one can imagine the burden of loss of their plans and dreams for the future. In a culture where there is no rule of law, those affected by their testimony will always have the capability to attack and to threaten them for the rest of their lives.

Co-optation of the Press
Finally, there is the most disturbing irony that involves the members of the media community. In the case of Alexander “Lex” Adonis, who served a prison sentence for libel, no less than a national press organization was reported to have been involved negotiating his release from prison if he publicly apologized. Upon his release, these colleagues asked him to appear with the politician who had filed the charges in a press conference. But Adonis refused. There are many in the press community who remain unperturbed by the number of their colleagues who have been killed, imprisoned for libel, or banned from coverage of public officials or entry to public offices. The way



they see it, it will not happen to them. They believe it happens only to those who are irresponsible—or they blame those who do not want to work within the system: “Those who are killed or taken to court for libel were asking for it.”

A Policy of Indifference
In the early 1990s when CMFR first scrutinized the pattern of impunity, I concluded that the killings were not a matter of official policy to suppress dissent and to silence critics. I saw the attacks as symptomatic of the prevailing environment of violence and lawlessness; and the media and press community, being an unusually large and visible presence in the country, had become moving targets for those disturbed by their carp and criticism. With available funding, CMFR has cooperated with the national media associations to provide training and ethics and advocated for a more stringent scrutiny of broadcast blocktimers, who may not be as strictly held by professional disciplines, since they are independent buyers of media time. But in the second decade of our efforts, even as we worked to cooperate more with government task forces in the Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice, we have found dedicated and committed response to cases brought to their attention the exception rather than the rule. More often than not, we are lectured about their efforts, asking that these be given some media attention. As for policy messages, we have heard enough of dismissive statements of “fly-by-night” journalists and abusive members of the press, not to read the sub-text clearly: Erring members of the press are to blame. I can only conclude that the policy in operation, despite statements to the contrary, is one of gross indifference.

Yes, I am resigned now only to small victories. But these small victories will make possible the hope for tomorrow. So even with this despairing acknowledgement, I would have to say that we cannot, we will not give up on our efforts. Rather we need to sustain the momentum of what we have started on all sides, the legal activism, the case research and the strategies for improved advocacy.


Impunity in the Philippines

We also need to understand better how both sectors or systems work. This conference agenda shows more inputs from advocate groups and members of the press, and we hope we have done our part to help the lawyers in their tasks. But such interaction needs to continue through the different cases, and the varying levels of experience of attacks and threat. These efforts must include the creation of mechanisms that will make media literacy an instrument of more vigorous defense, and legal literacy to become part of the knowledge of journalists and the rest of the public. Such knowledge-sharing will raise another learning curve in making our democracy work. In the end, this cooperative engagement must bring to birth a network of lawyers who are going to be willing and able to take up the cases as they arise, anywhere in this archipelago and throughout the region. So I thank all those who have made this meeting possible. May we all be blessed with knowing that the work we do now will make possible the success of those who follow in our paths.



The Prosecution and the Media: Getting Their Act Together
by Leo Dacera III and Prima Jesusa B. Quinsayas


The Prosecution and the Media: Getting Their Act Together

“Cases are won in the courtroom…”


HIS IS A statement often made whenever the question of the role of media coverage of a case is raised.

Yes, there is no denying that it is the drama within the courtroom that matters most: the pleadings and motions filed, the evidence presented, the objections by opposing counsel, the words and phrases that see print in the so-called TSN (transcript of stenographic notes), and the legal strategy used to establish proof beyond reasonable doubt, or to counter the same. And yes, the number of times a prosecutor or defense counsel gives an interview on television or over the radio or for publication does not do much in ensuring a case is won. That does not, however, mean media coverage has no role in ensuring the successful prosecution of a case. In the Philippines, the accused in most cases of media killings pending before the courts either has political clout or is someone hired by one with such clout. In a country where political influence usually means economic power as well, the prosecution finds in media an ally against possible legal maneuverings that can and, in fact, do take place off-court. With graft and corruption permeating almost all levels of governance—a fact that people tongue-in-cheek call “an open secret”—legal maneuverings are not impossible and certainly not new. Stories abound of witnesses threatened or bought off to execute affidavits of recantation, as do those of people paid to bear false witness. There are also instances of witnesses being told to remain silent lest they want to risk their lives and those of their loved ones. Common, too, are reports on law enforcement agencies’ failing to serve warrants of arrest, not securing much needed evidence or attempting to whitewash the whole case. Even prosecution is not spared as there are incidents of prosecutors administering oaths (usually of recanting witnesses) under suspicious circumstances. How do such legal maneuvers affect prosecution?



The strength of the prosecution’s case can be weakened in cases of recantations as the same would mean one less prosecution witness. Private complainants can also recant and opt to settle for a compromise with the accused. Under the law, media killings are classified as public crimes and therefore theoretically can be prosecuted by the State even without a private complainant. In reality, though, the absence of a private complainant affects prosecution efforts and in some cases has lead to the dismissal of the case against the accused as what happened in the murder case of Philip Agustin. When it is eyewitnesses who recant, things get even worse for the prosecution as the number of eyewitnesses in media killing cases is usually very few, ranging from one to three. In the murder case of Herson “Boy” Hinolan, two out of three witnesses recanted. This appears to have come at a most inauspicious time and under suspicious circumstances. Administrative charges have been recommended against the prosecutor who assisted the witnesses in executing their affidavits of recantation. A common snag in prosecution efforts is the failure to arrest the accused, especially when he is an influential person or has resources that can “persuade” arresting authorities to delay his arrest. This results in the court’s not acquiring jurisdiction over the person of the accused, which in turn affects its jurisdiction over the criminal case itself. Thus, a number of media killing cases are idle, unable to move forward as the arraignment of the accused is dependent on his arrest. This is the status of the cases of the suspected masterminds and killers of Marlene Esperat and Dennis Cuesta. How can the media help? A vigilant media that keeps close watch over cases of media killings can help in various ways: • It discourages people from consenting to be part of underhanded legal maneuvers; • It catches the commission of these maneuvers and brings the same to the attention of those in authority; and • It compels those in authority to hold the perpetrators of such acts responsible.


The Prosecution and the Media: Getting Their Act Together

Vigilant media coverage goes beyond simple factual reporting of the whosaid-what variety. It also means assigning journalists who have familiarized themselves with legal jargon and criminal procedure, or who have at least taken the trouble to consult someone who knows when double-checking his/ her facts. Such coverage must be able to see through juicy sound bites and in the process identify the crucial turning points of a case. The ideal media coverage is one that does not take the bait, usually packaged with drama and flair but which contains little substance, that should have otherwise enriched people’s knowledge of the case, or provide airtime or print space to prosecutors who see themselves as celebrity lawyers but hardly contribute to the building or strengthening of the case. The ideal media coverage also includes providing updates and reminders on the status of the case, especially one that has dragged on and has been overtaken by more recent events. It also includes contextual reporting that takes into consideration the nuances of the place where the crime happened and the interplay of political and economic relations between and among the parties involved. Media coverage helps sustain public interest without bordering on trial by publicity (as the accused does have a right to a fair trial). Aside from its tendency to highlight the drama in and of a case, media coverage should also have the effect of keeping the parties on their toes. Sustained and responsible coverage would remind the courts that media and the public are keeping watch; thus, it serves as a constant cue for the courts to be fair, just and impartial. The prosecution will remain primed and prepared in its work to secure the conviction of those who are guilty and, in doing so, attain justice. As for the defense, such coverage can serve to discourage any devious exploits lest the defense is tempted to pull off sneaky legal maneuvers that would undermine prosecution and defeat the judicial process. Can such media coverage help secure successful prosecution? Yes, as it can help ensure that the legal battle that happens in the courtroom is free of off-



court deceitful legal maneuverings that would unfairly tilt the balance in favor of those who orchestrated the same. The process of securing justice in the Philippine judicial system is one that has been described as “inter-generational.” But it is not unattainable. As one lawyer who recently lost a father and a lawyer-sister in the infamous Maguindanao massacre wryly commented, “The wheels of justice may be square, but they’re moving.” _______________________________________________________________

Senior State Prosecutor Leo Dacera III is the director of the Department of Justice Witness Protection Program. Dacera has worked on several media murder cases including the case of Marlene Esperat and the Ampatuan Massacre case. Prima Jesusa Quinsayas is the legal counsel of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists.


The Year That Was in the Philippine Press



Protecting Witnesses for the Prosecution


Protecting Witnesses for the Prosecution


HE CONTINUING MURDER of Filipino journalists/media practitioners indicates how much the culture of impunity in the Philippines has flourished—one more result of the systemic weaknesses of the country’s justice system. In addition to the government’s lack of political will, inefficient law enforcement, prosecutors burdened with impossible case loads, the primitive state of forensic investigation, and the poorly-funded witness protection program are responsible for the culture of impunity. The prosecution of criminal cases including media murders in the Philippines relies heavily, sometimes solely, on testimonial evidence rather than forensic evidence, the result of the rudimentary—and sometimes careless—processing and gathering of physical evidence by law enforcement agencies. Investigators, prosecutors and lawyers try to gather extensive and comprehensive testimonial evidence to make up for the lack of physical evidence, and their unreliability if available. The families and colleagues of slain journalists have also been burdened with the task of locating possible witnesses for the prosecution of the suspected killers of their kin. In the murder case against the alleged killer of Davao-based radio blocktimer Fernando “Batman” Lintuan, the testimony of the lone witness, described by the court judge as “ridiculous and unbelievable,” contributed most to the dismissal of the case and the acquittal of the suspect last April 22, 2009. The prosecution had failed to present additional evidence to corroborate the testimony of its lone witness. On Christmas eve more than two years ago (Dec. 24, 2007), Lintuan was shot to death by a lone assassin. What happened in the Lintuan case was not unusual. Many other media murder cases, like the 2003 killing of another Davao City broadcaster, Juan “Jun” Pala, never even reached the courts because no witness dared to come forward.

Securing witnesses
Convincing witnesses to testify in court—especially in cases involving powerful personalities—is itself as problematic as finding them.



In a country of guns for hire and indifferent law enforcement, witnesses naturally demand assurance that they and their families will be safe from retribution. Many witnesses also worry about their socio-economic situation—the loss of their jobs, their relocation, and problems with daily finances (especially for those who will be admitted to safe houses). Many witnesses can’t be blamed if they think twice about going into the tedious trial process. In the Philippines, murder trials last for years. In some cases, witnesses have died without testifying. Those who do survive end up totally spent. All these concerns about the protection of and support for witnesses and their families should have been addressed by Republic Act (RA) No. 6981, also known as the “The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act of 1991.” RA 6981 mandates the creation of the government’s Witness Benefits, Security and Protection Program, commonly known as the Witness Protection Program (WPP). But in reality, the government witness protection scheme is limited in scope and poorly-funded. WPP director Senior State Prosecutor Leo Dacera III in his report on the weaknesses and limitations of the state-run witness protection program published in Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility’s (CMFR) Philippine Press Freedom Report 2008 pointed out that support for the prosecution services especially in the field of protecting witnesses has declined over the years despite an increase in the number of murder cases. “Although we recognize that in a developing country like ours the witness protection program and the prosecution service will always have to stand in line for scarce resources which must first be devoted for our people’s basic needs, the issue should be properly addressed soonest before we reach the point where the problems become so huge and so many they compromise the capacity of the system where prosecution of the cases of slain journalists becomes nearly impossible,” Dacera said. Not all witnesses are qualified for the government’s witness protection program. RA 6981 states that: “Any person who has witnessed or has knowledge or information on the commission of a crime and has testified or is testifying or about to testify before any judicial or quasi-judicial body


Protecting Witnesses for the Prosecution

or before any investigating authority, may be admitted....” provided that he/ she passed the criteria laid out by Section 3. The criteria are: (1) the case the witness will testify for is considered a “grave felony” as defined in the Revised Penal Code; (2) his/her testimony “can be substantially corroborated in its material points”; (3) s/he and his/her family are under threat; and (4) s/he is not a law enforcement officer. The government’s inability to address the needs of witnesses has made some witnesses vulnerable to the influence of the accused. In 2008, two witnesses in the 2004 killing of Aklan-based broadcaster Herson Hinolan recanted. Both witnesses expressed in their affidavit of recantation uncertainty that the alleged gunman-mastermind was the one they saw shooting the broadcaster. One of these witnesses had allegedly been convinced by his relatives to withdraw his testimony in exchange for “help” from the defendant. (The broadcaster’s widow has since filed an administrative case against the state prosecutor who signed the witnesses’ affidavits of recantation.) Many also doubt the capacity of the government’s witness protection program to protect them. It does not help that some witnesses have been killed as some cases were progressing. In 2005, a key witness in the murder of Pagadian city-based journalist Edgar Damalerio—Edgar Ongue—went into hiding after Edgar Amoro, another witness in the Damalerio killing, was himself killed. A gunman killed Amoro in February 2005, allegedly for identifying former policeman Guillermo Wapile as the shooter of Damalerio. The Amoro family reported that he had been receiving death threats since May 2002 from Wapile and his accomplices. It took the intervention of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) before the families of Damalerio, Ongue and Amoro could be moved to a secure location. (The Cebu City Regional Trial Court convicted Wapile on Nov. 25, 2005.)

Improving protection of witnesses
The inadequacies of the state-run witness protection program have compelled witnesses in media killings to refuse to testify in court. Media advocates and press groups have realized the importance of witnesses in the prosecution of cases and the urgent need to protect them and their families as well.



CMFR and FFFJ regularly consult and talk with witnesses, families, and other relatives of slain journalists to reassure them of continuing support, morally, legally and financially. Established in 2003, FFFJ is a coalition of six media organizations formed to address the continuing attacks against journalists and media practitioners. CMFR serves as the FFFJ Secretariat. FFFJ has also expanded the coverage of its legal assistance to include key witnesses in ongoing cases against the killers of journalists/media practitioners. It has also worked closely with the prosecution teams handling media murder cases to address the problem of impunity. Media organizations have offered monetary assistance for persons who choose to testify in cases involving the killing of their employees. Press freedom advocates have also joined civil society organizations in pushing for a better budget for the state-run WPP. In December 2008, the Senate approved a P30-million increase in the proposed budget of the WPP. Senator Richard Gordon, in a December 2008 press release said that “A wellfunded protection program is an indispensable requirement for the successful resolution of heinous crimes, such as murder, kidnapping-for-ransom and drug trafficking.” (Approved last March 2009, the 2009 General Appropriations Act or RA 9524 reflected the senate proposal to increase the WPP budget by P30 million. For 2009, the fund reached P114 million, compared to the approximately P84 million it received the previous year. )


No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Date of Death 1986-Apr-24 1986-Apr-25 1987-Mar-24 1987-Apr-12 1987-Aug-27 1987-Aug-27 1987-Aug-27 1987-Aug-27 1987-Aug-28 1987-Oct-04 1987-Oct-10 1988-Mar-29 1988-Aug-12 1988-Oct-30 1989-Oct-17 1989-Dec-01 1990-Feb-4 1990-Feb-6 1990-May-15 1990-Jul-08 1991-Apr-14 1992-Jul-01 1992-July-3 1992-Sep-21 Name Pete F. Mabazza Wilfredo Vicoy Virgilio Pacala Dionisio Perpetuo Joaquin* Narciso Balani Rogie Zagado Leo Palo Cesar Maglalang Martin Castor Ramon Noblejas Leo Enriquez III Noel Miranda Ruben R. Manrique** Josef Aldeguer Nava Severino Arcones Eddie Telan Enrique Lingan Joseph "Joe" Kreuger Reynaldo Catindig Sr. Jean Ladringan Nesino Paulin Toling* Danilo Vergara Abdulajid "Jade" Ladja Rev. Greg Hapalla News Organization / Place of Killing Manila Bulletin / Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Reuters / Tuguegarao City, Cagayan Manila Hotline / San Pablo, Laguna Olongapo News / Olongapo City, Zambales dxRA / Davao City, Davao del Sur dxRA / Davao City, Davao del Sur dxRA / Davao City, Davao del Sur dxRA / Davao City, Davao del Sur Pilipino Ngayon / Manila dyVL / Tacloban City, Leyte Kyodo news service, Washington Times, People’s Journal / Cebu City, Cebu Mindanao Scanner / Tagum City, Davao del Norte Luzon Tribune / Balanga City, Bataan Visayan Life Today and dyRP / Iloilo City, Iloilo dyFM-Bombo Radyo / Iloilo City, Iloilo Newscaster / Quezon City The Luzon Times, The Midway Star / Lucena City, Quezon Mindoro Weekly Reporter / Pinamalayan, Oriental Mindoro Northern Sierra Madre Express / Timauini, Isabela Southern Star / General Santos City Panguil Bay Monitor / Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental Philippine Post / Iligan, Lanao del Norte Prenza Zamboanga / Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur dxAS / Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur Region of Place of Killing Region II Region II Region IV-A Region III Region XI Region XI Region XI Region XI NCR Region VIII Region VII Region XI Region III Region VI Region VI NCR Region IV-A Region IV-B Region II Region XII Region X Region X Region IX Region IX


No. 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52

Date of Death 1992-Dec-02 1993-Jan-11 1996-Feb-12 1996-Dec-15 1997-Jun-03 1997-Dec-17 1998-Feb-15 1998-Mar-29 1998-Oct-30 1999-Jan-21 1999-Apr-25 2000-May-23 2000-Nov-17 2001-Jan-03 2001-Feb-24 2001-May-30 2002-May-13 2002-Aug-22 2003-Apr-28 2003-May-17 2003-Jul-08 2003-Aug-19 2003-Aug-20 2003-Sept-06 2003-Dec-02 2004-Feb-11 2004-Jun-17 2004-Jul-31

Name Gloria Martin Romeo Andrada Legaspi Ferdinand Reyes Alberto Berbon* Daniel J. Hernandez Regalado Mabazza Odilon Mallari* Rey Bancairin Dominador "Dom" Bentulan Bienvenido Dasal Frank Palma* Vincent Rodriguez Olimpio Jalapit Rolando Ureta *** Mohammad Yusoph Candelario “Jhun” Cayona** Edgar Damalerio * Rhode Sonny Esguerra Alcantara John Belen Villanueva Jr. Apolinario "Polly" Pobeda*** Bonifacio Gregorio Noel Villarante** Rico Ramirez** Juan "Jun" Pala Nelson Nadura Rowell Endrinal*** Elpidio “Ely” Binoya(+) Roger Mariano***

News Organization / Place of Killing dxXX / Isabela, Basilan Voice of Zambales / Olongapo City, Zambales Press Freedom / Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte dzMM / Imus, Cavite People's Journal Tonight / Quezon City Polaris cable network / Cauayan, Isabela dxCP / General Santos City dxLL / Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur dxGS / General Santos City dxKR Radyo Agong / Koronadal, South Cotabato dwYB-Bombo Radyo / Bacolod City, Negros Occidental dzMM / Guagua, Pampanga dxPR / Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur dyKR / Kalibo, Aklan dxID / Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur dxLL / Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur dxKP, Zamboanga Scribe, Mindanao Gold Star / Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur Kokus, Celestron Cable TV / San Pablo City, Laguna dzGB / Camalig, Albay dwTI / Lucena City, Quezon Dyaryo Banat / La Paz, Tarlac The Laguna Score, DZJV / Sta. Cruz, Laguna dxSF / San Francisco, Agusan del Sur dxGO / Davao City, Davao del Sur dyME / Masbate City, Masbate dzRC, Metro News / Legazpi City, Albay MBC-DZRH Radyo Natin / General Santos City dzJC / San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte

Region of Place of Killing ARMM Region III Region IX Region IV-A NCR Region II Region XII Region IX Region XII Region XII Region VI Region III Region IX Region VI Region IX Region IX Region IX Region IV-A Region V Region IV-A Region III Region IV-A Region XIII Region XI Region V Region V Region XII Region I


No. 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80

Date of Death 2004-Aug-05 2004-Sept-29 2004-Oct-19 2004-Nov-12 2004-Nov-15 2005-Mar-24 2005-May-02 2005-May-10 2005-Jul-05 2005-Nov-18 2005-Nov-20 2005-Dec-01 2006-Jan-20 2006-Apr-02 2006-May-22 2006-Jun-19 2006-Jun-19 2006-Jul-18 2007-Apr-18 2007-Dec-24 2008-April-27 2008-June-30 2008-Aug-7 2008-Aug-9 2008-Nov-17 2008-Dec-2 2009-Feb-23 2009-Jun-9

Name Arnnel Manalo Romeo Binungcal Eldy Gabinales, aka Eldy Sablas Gene Boyd Lumawag Herson Hinolan *** Marlene Esperat*/ *** Klein Cantoneros* Philip Agustin**/**** Rolando Morales Ricardo Uy Robert Ramos George Benaojan* Rolly Cañete (+) Orlando Mendoza Fernando Batul*** George Vigo Maricel Alave-Vigo Armando “Rachman” Pace* Carmelo "Mark" Palacios Fernando "Batman" Lintuan (+) Marcos Mataro Fausto "Bert" Sison*** Martin Roxas*** Dennis Cuesta*** Arecio Padrigao*** Leo L. Mila Ernesto Rollin*** Crispin Perez***

News Organization / Place of Killing dzRH, Bulgar, Dyaryo Veritas / Bauan, Batangas Remate, Bulgar, Mt. Samat Forum / Pilar, Bataan dxJR-FM Radio Real / Tandag, Surigao del Sur MindaNews / Jolo, Sulu dyIN - Bombo Radyo / Kalibo, Aklan The Midland Review / Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat dxAA / Dipolog City, Zambaonga del Norte Starline Times Recorder / Dingalan, Aurora dxMD / General Santos City dzRS-AM / Sorsogon City, Sorsogon Katapat / Cabuyao, Laguna dyDD / Cebu City, Cebu dxPR / Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur Tarlac Profile, Tarlac Patrol / Tarlac City, Tarlac dyPR / Puerto Princesa City, Palawan dxND / Kidapawan, North Cotabato dxND / Kidapawan, North Cotabato dxDS / Digos City, Davao del Sur dzRB / Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija dxGO / Davao City, Davao del Sur UNTV / San Simon toll gate, North Luzon Expressway dzAT / Sariaya, Quezon dyVR / Roxas City, Capiz dxMD / General Santos City dxRS - Radyo Natin / Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental Radyo Natin / San Roque, Northern Samar dxSY / Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental dwDO / San Jose City, Occidental Mindoro

Region of Place of Killing Region IV-A Region III Region XIII ARMM Region VI Region XII Region IX Region III Region XII Region V Region IV-A Region VII Region IX Region III Region IV-B Region XII Region XII Region XI Region III Region XI Region III Region IV-A Region VI Region XII Region X Region VIII Region X Region IV-B


No. 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103

Date of Death 2009-Jul-27 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23

Name Godofredo Linao*** Bengie Adolfo*** Araneta, Henry*** Mc Delbert "Macmac" Arriola*** Rubello Bataluna*** Arturo Betia*** Romeo Jimmy "Palak" Cabillo*** Marites Cablitas*** Hannibal Cachuela*** Jephon Cadagdagon*** John Caniban*** Eleanor "Leah" Dalmacio*** Noel Decena*** Gina Dela Cruz*** Jose "Jhoy" Duhay*** Jolito Evardo*** Santos Gatchalian Jr.*** Bienvenido Legarta Jr. *** Lindo Lupogan*** Ernesto "Bombo Bart" Maravilla*** Rey Merisco*** Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay Marife "Neneng" Montaño***

News Organization / Place of Killing Radyo Natin-Bislig / Barobo, Surigao del Sur Gold Star Daily / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao dzRH / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao UNTV / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Gold Star Daily / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Periodico Ini / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Midland Review / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao News Focus, RPN - dxDX / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Manila Star, Punto News / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Saksi News / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Periodico Ini, Sultan Kudarat Gazette / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Socsksargen Today / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Periodico Ini, Rapido / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Saksi Balita / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Gold Star Daily / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao UNTV / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Mindanao Daily Gazette / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Prontiera News, Tingog Mindanao / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Mindanao Daily Gazette / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Bombo Radyo-Koronadal City / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Periodico Ini / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Midland Review / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Saksi Balita, dxCP / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao



No. 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114

Date of Death 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Nov-23 2009-Dec-24

Name Rosell Morales*** Victor Nuñez*** Joel Parcon*** Ronnie Perante*** Fernando "Ranny" Razon*** Alejandro "Bong" Reblando*** Napoleon Salaysay*** Francisco "Ian" Subang Jr.*** Andres "Andy" Teodoro*** Daniel Tiamzon*** Ismael Pasigna***

News Organization / Place of Killing News Focus / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao UNTV / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Prontiera News / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Gold Star Daily / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Periodico Ini / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Manila Bulletin, Reuters / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Clear View Gazette / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Socsksargen Today / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao Mindanao Inquirer, People's Forum / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao UNTV / Ampatuan town, Maguindanao B- 96 FM / Labason, Zamboanga del Norte


Legend: * ** - with conviction - dismissed

*** - on trial **** - archived (+) - acquittal


About the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
HE FORMATION OF the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) addresses one of the critical concerns confronting the Philippines after People Power toppled the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986. That concern calls attention to the power of the media and the role of the free press in the development of Philippine democracy. All over the world, press freedom has been found to be essential to the democratic system. Effective participatory government is possible only when it can count on a well-informed society where individuals freely exchange ideas, where public debate and discussion arise from knowledge and understanding of national affairs. That freedom involves not only media professionals, but also the public served by the media—public officials, the private sector, civil society groups, readers, viewers and listeners—who receive information and are part of the cycle of public communication. But freedom of the press, like all liberties, has its limits, for the simple reason that it is vulnerable to abuse. Democratic recovery confronts serious obstacles on the media front. The press and the media need to exert special efforts to measure up as a collective vehicle of information, as an instrument for clarifying complex issues and dilemmas of development that the public should understand. Against this background, CMFR was organized in 1989 as a private, non-stock, non-profit organization involving the different sectors of society. Its programs uphold press freedom, promote responsible journalism and encourage journalistic excellence. For more information about CMFR, visit




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