Wednesday, July 05, 2006

GMA accountable for latest attack against media freedom

3 July 2006

GMA accountable for latest attack against media freedom

Ngayon Na, Bayan!- Kodao Productions condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest attack against media freedom in this country. At two o’clock in the morning of July 2, eight armed and ski-masked men burned down DZRC Radyo Cagayano 90.1 FM in Baggao Cagayan. They harmed, hogtied and terrorized the station’s staff members and confiscated all their mobile phones. The victims are station manager Susan Mapa and staff members Arnold Agaraan, Arlyn Areta, Erik Ayudan, Armalyn Badua and Joy Marcos.

Our anger is underscored by the fact that Kodao Productions provided active technical assistance to the operators and staff of DZRC as far back as 2003. We have also provided them trainings, the latest of which was in April of this year prior to the station’s test broadcast on May 27.

Ngayon Na, Bayan!-Kodao has strong reasons to believe that the perpetrators of this crime come from the ranks of government forces. Radyo Cagayano’s operation has been delayed by harassments by personnel of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army’s 5th Infantry Division many times. In July 1, 2003, elements of the same unit hacked Joey Javier, severely injuring his arm. Javier was president of the local peasant organization responsible for setting up and eventually operating DZRC. All these belie the statement from the local police that it was the handiwork of the New People’s Army.

DZRC has now joined the ranks of Kodao, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, ABS-CBN, ABC 5, The Daily Tribune, Ang Pahayagang Abante, and many other media and practitioners who have suffered the impunity of the escalating human rights violations by government personnel and instrumentalities. Our award-winning radio program ‘Ngayon Na, Bayan!’ was the first media casualty hours after Malacanang announced Presidential Proclamation 1017 in February 24.

We hold President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, accountable for this latest act of human rights violation, on no less than a media organization. We enjoin our colleagues in the media in the Philippines and other countries to join us in our condemnation against attacks to press freedom and the people’s human rights. #

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