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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Aquino urged to act on media killings


MANILA, Philippines - A former Sandiganbayan justice urged yesterday President Aquino to work on ending the killings of journalists and activists in the country instead of blaming the judiciary for the violence.

Former Sandiganbayan justice Raoul Victorino was commenting on the statement of presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda that the judiciary was to be blamed for the unresolved cases of killings of journalists in the country.

He said as a retired justice, he felt that it was his obligation “to defend the judiciary from baseless and uncalled-for criticisms, especially those coming from persons who are expected to protect and respect the institution.

The statement of spokesman Edwin Lacierda shifting the blame over the media killings to the judiciary does not, to my mind, help anyone. It gives no assurance whatsoever to our citizens, especially the families and loved ones of the slain journalists, that our government is doing something to address their concerns,” Victorino said.

Nor does it proffer any proposed solutions to stop the spate of media killings. On the contrary, the Palace displayed insensitivity by issuing this statement, and worse, it sowed animosity towards a coequal branch of government, which is its partner in resolving crimes against journalists and against the public in general,” he said.

He said instead of finding ways with which the judiciary and the executive can work together to put an end to the media killings, “the Palace may, unfortunately, perpetrate distrust, discord and hostility.

Being a distinguished lawyer himself, Lacierda knows that the executive branch plays a great role in the administration of justice,” Victorino said.

It is not the judiciary but the executive that does the manhunts, arrests, gathering of evidence and filing of cases. The executive is the very branch of government which runs after the criminals, such as those who committed the crime of murder against our journalists, and builds the cases against these villains, and it is the judiciary that, after due process and when warranted by the evidence, decides the cases for acquittal or conviction.

Victorino, who had a brief stint as chief presidential legal counsel during the Arroyo administration, pointed out that former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was pilloried by allies of President Aquino for her reported inaction on media killings.

Now that President Aquino is at the helm, should he now wash his hands of any responsibility for bringing justice to the death of our journalists and putting an end to the continued spree of media killings?” he asked.


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