(Delivered during his necrological service Mati City, June 24)
Today we bury yet another journalist killed under the Arroyo administration. But today rises all the more our strong resolve to never let go and relentlessly fight for justice–demand accountability from the government–until justice is served.
Today we grieve over the our fallen colleague whose only guilt was to challenge the devils in Davao Oriental–those whose pockets get fatter everytime a tree is felled in the forests of the province.
No matter what his persuasions were, apparently Jesiderio “Jessie” Camangyan hit the devils where it hurt them the most.
And so they hit them back in the most despicable fashion–they sent a bullet right into his head. He fell in full view of the public, including his wife, Ruth, and their six-year old son–right in the middle of what could have been a festive June 14 night in Barangay Old Makopa, Manay town.
Before his death, Jessie was one of the strongest–if not the noisiest–voices in Davao Oriental who spoke against the rampant illegal logging activities in the province.
Authorities said Jessie’s death was politically-motivated as they also look into his being a broadcaster as the reason behind it. Whatever it is, his death could never be justified by anything.
Jessie Camangyan was murdered. It was brutal. It was cold-bloodied.
But as we grieve today, we also rage.
We rage against the culture of impunity that the government of outgoing president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has allowed to thrive in our midst. And that the same culture of impunity has become the weapon of the powerful few in the provinces–like Davao Oriental–in terrorizing their enemies.
Such was the case of broadcaster Jessie Camangyan.
We rage against the culture of impunity that spawned the culture of silence, something that already afflicts many provincial journalists who are now too scared to speak out the truth as they scamper in fear of being harassed or killed.
The death of Jessie was obviously meant to signal that journalists must stop speaking out the truth, the same truth that is supposed to be the reason why we are called journalists.
Should we surrender to these threats surely the devil will succeed. But should stand united in defiance and confront the devil in the face, the devil will fail.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Davao City Chapter challenge the authorities of Davao Oriental to prove that they can break the backbone of impunity by doing everything in their dispensation to ensure that triggerman and the brains behind Jessie’s death are arrested, brought to trial and put behind bars.
We also challenge the Aquino administration to be not like its predecessor; for him to end the prevailing culture of impunity and give justice to all the victims of extrajudicial killings.
Jeffrey M. Tupas
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
Davao City Chapter
June 24, 2010