A keputusan kukuh dalam kes wartawan pembunuhan beramai-ramai di Filipina adalah satu langkah ke arah yang betul, tetapi wartawan Filipina masih menghadapi perjuangan yang berat.
oleh Zachary Frye
Pada Disember 19, 2019, hakim Filipino dihukum pemimpin Ampatuan puak yang berkuasa penjara seumur hidup ke atas peranan mereka dalam pembunuhan daripada 58 orang - 32 daripada mereka wartawan - hanya lebih satu dekad yang lalu.
Pembunuhan berlaku selepas seorang ahli politik tempatan di wilayah selatan Maguindanao, Esmael Mangudadatu, memasuki perlumbaan untuk gabenor yang diadakan oleh bapa Ampatuan.
Pada akhir November 2009, beberapa 200 lelaki bersenjata menyerang sebuah konvoi yang membawa wartawan, peguam dan isteri calon. Kes undang-undang terhadap tertuduh sama dicemari oleh keganasan. Selama bertahun, tiga witnesses were murdered.
Di luar 197 people charged in the case, lebih 40 received prison sentences. The charged include police officers, militiamen and Ampatuan family members.
The remaining suspects were let off due to weak or uncorroborated evidence tying them to the murders. While clearly a win for the free press and justice in the face of impunity, journalists in the Philippines will continue to face an uphill battle in the fight for safety and security.
Victims’ families get some closure, but many involved escaped justice
lebih 50 of the accused were acquitted of any wrongdoing. While the main perpetrators received life sentences, over half of those accused of involvement with the crime will get off without punishment.
While it is important that each suspect was investigated and their complicity evaluated based on the merits of the case, the high number of acquittals is noteworthy.
Before the verdict, Mary Grace Morales, a 43-year-old mother of three whose sister and husband were killed in the massacre, made it clear that she was hoping for a more comprehensive ruling.
“If anyone gets out, even if it’s just one person, it will hurt. It’s not fair,"dia berkata.
masih, it seems that many of the victims’ family members are content with the trial’s outcome.
“We’re all happy with the decision even if not everyone was convicted,” said Jergin Dela Cruz Malabanan, 26. She was a teenager when her mother was killed in the attack, leaving her to kenaikan her siblings and newborn baby alone.
In addition to the acquittals, beberapa 80 massacre suspects remain at large, potentially putting victims’ families at further risk.
Press freedom is still in danger in the Philippines
While a step in the right direction, the verdict is not a reflection of improved working conditions for journalists across the archipelago.
Pada Disember 30, 2019, during a visit to earthquake victims in North Cotabato, Duterte urged the ABS-CBN media franchise to sell their company ahead of contract negotiations.
“If I were you, I would sell it. It’s only now that Filipinos would be able to get back at your wrongdoings. And I will make sure that you will remember this episode of our times [sic] forever,” dia ditambah.
Many Filipino journalists also report incidents of threats and harassment while doing their jobs.
Ed Lingao, a Filipino broadcast journalist, described the harassment and public derision the media faces. “They always say I’m fake news. Anything that’s critical is fake, betul?"
In response to a question on the specific kinds of violence directed at him, beliau berkata, [critics say they will] “blow my head off or bury me alive.”
In a separate case, another journalist was dibunuh earlier this year in Mindanao after hosting an evening radio programme.
Duterte’s government is also wielding the judiciary as a silencing weapon. Media outlets that criticise the president get into legal trouble. A litany of caj against Rappler, a news outlet critical of the Duterte administration, have been lodged in recent years. Many independent observers characterize the charges as biased.
masih, the outcome of the trial suggests that impunity doesn’t have an unmitigated foothold in the Philippines. Many problems remain, but at least media practitioners and the families of the victims can rest knowing that there are consequences for senseless violence in their country, even for those in power.
malangnya, it will take more than one court case, no matter how big, to change the everyday reality for journalists in the Philippines. Abasement of the media is ingrained, and actively promoted, by the political elite. Only an overhaul in the political culture and climate of intimidation can make amends and avoid a repeat of Maguindanao.