NUJP statement on Marlene Esperat’s 4th death anniversary

Mar. 29, 2009

On March 24, 2005, gunmen barged into the home of Marlene Esperat in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, and shot her in the head as she sat down to dinner with her children, including a then 10-year-old son.

Esperat’s murder was singular in its brutality and brazenness.

It also highlighted not just the extent that those who thrive in the darkness would go to keep the light of truth from shining on their nefarious deeds but also the impunity with which they are able to do so.

An impunity that has, and continues to be, nurtured by the inaction and apathy government has generally shown towards the murder of journalists.

The statistics should be enough to indict any government and its claims of being a democracy – 100 killed since1986, 64 of them under this administration alone.

While the case filed over the Esperat murder is one of a handful that has resulted in convictions, only the men who pulled the trigger have been punished. It is well worth pointing out that the relentless vigil media kept to ensure the case would not end up a travesty played a major role in the conviction of Esperat’s killers.

The alleged masterminds, who have been identified as regional executives of the Department of Agriculture, remain free. Worse, they have been allowed to resort to legal maneuvers that have prevented their arrest and prosecution, with at least one reportedly able to flee the country.

It is a trend we have seen in the cases that have reached conviction, like Pagadian journalist Edgar Damalerio. The killer, the policeman Guillermo Wapile, is behind bars but the mastermind is still out there.

As we mark the fourth anniversary of Esperat’s murder, we call on government, on the courts, on law enforcement agencies, to do their sworn duty and give justice to her family by prosecuting and convicting the masterminds.

We demand that government go beyond lip service and token gestures and work to solve not just the Esperat but all the 100 journalists’ murders since 1986.

We call on the independent Philippine press to remain vigilant but unwavering in the commitment to seeing that slain colleagues shall not have died in vain.

Let us also continue to oppose any attempts to curtail freedom of the press and expression and prevent us from serving the people’s right to know.

We call on the Filipino people, the public whom we serve, to stand by us and demand justice for Marlene Esperat and all the other seekers and harbingers of truth whose voices have been silenced.

For reference:

Nonoy Espina

Vice Chairperson

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

comments powered by Disqus