Philippines: Killings of Activists, Journalists Severely Damages 2007 Election Credibility — Bayan

Apr. 20, 2007

MANILA — The killings of activists and journalists have become so untenable that it would be enough to destroy the credibility of the upcoming May 2007 elections.

This was the warning aired by the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) as cases of killings and attempted murders of activists and journalists escalated over the past two weeks.

Yesterday, Inquirer reporter Delfin Mallari, Jr survived a slay attempt in what activists are describing as the worst month for activists and journalists before the May elections.

As election day approaches, there has been a surge in ambushes and abductions of both activists and journalists. The two professions now find themselves increasingly in the same boat, said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Several activists have been murdered over the past two weeks, including two farmers in Cagayan Valley, another farmer activist in Sorsogon, as well as a murder attempt on a human rights worker in Panay. Two Panay activists have also gone missing since last week, while two activists in Cebu were abducted then later surfaced.

A month ago, the human rights group Amnesty International called on the Arroyo government to stop the spate of extrajudicial killings of activists and journalists before the May 14 elections. The Arroyo regime has obviously failed to heed this call, Reyes said.

There can be no credible elections when social critics, whether from the Left or from the media, are being silenced by forces who wish to remain in power. The message we are seeing here is that the powers-that-be are intent on silencing any form of opposition to be able to influence the outcome of the elections, Reyes said.

News reports have linked a lawmaker in the attempted murder of Mallari. Another lawmaker is being linked to the murder of Nueva Ecija radio reporter Mark Palacios.

It appears that those suspected of carrying out the killings, whether at the local or national levels, all want to stay firmly in power after the May 2007 elections. It is this drive for power that suppresses the legitimate activities of activists and journalists, Reyes said.

comments powered by Disqus