, January 23, 2006, (BULLETIN) The National Press Club (NPC) lauded yesterday President Arroyo for issuing an order directing Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Arturo Lomibao to get the suspected masterminds of the killings of journalists.

Cerge M. Remonde, secretary for government media, said the President issued the order to the PNP chief during the recent meeting of the National Security Group of the Cabinet.

Remonde said that the PNP chief had earlier reported to the President that 90 percent of all the cases involving the killing of journalists have been solved.

When the President asked if the PNP has arrested the masterminds, Lomibao said it is difficult to arrest the masterminds and that arrest is possible only if the arrested killers confess and tell all about the killings.

This prompted the President, Secretary Remonde said, to tell Lomibao to find a way of identifying and arresting the people behind the killings.

The President also directed Lomibao to coordinate with media organizations in the effort to provide journalists security when necessary.

She ordered the strengthening of "Task Force Newsman" and the allocation of funds to enable it to do its job effectively.

In lauding the President for her directives to the PNP, the NPC said her orders reflect her deep concern over the killing of journalists and her desire to stop the murders.

NPC President Tony Antonio hailed her directive instructing the police to coordinate with media organizations t to protect journalists. He said in some instances, the NPC’s official requests for protection of certain journalists did not even get any official or formal answer from the PNP.

Antonio said in the past, the NPC asked progress reports on the investigations of the killings, but no such reports were furnished the club. He noted that the latest PNP report on the slayings received by the NPC was the one provided by then PNP chief Edgardo Aglipay, who has retired.

Antonio said the NPC is at a loss over the PNP claim that 90 percent of the cases have been solved.

He noted that NPC records show that about 70 journalists have been killed since 1986 when democracy was restored in the country. He said he would request the PNP to provide the NPC with reports on unsolved and solved cases on the killing of journalists.

He also requested President Arroyo to issue to the Department of Justice directives to speed up the prosecution of cases involving the killing of journalists, noting that in all the 70 cases, only two accused – a former Pagadian City policeman and a former boxer – had been convicted.

He said that while the PNP had arrested suspects in the killings, justice would not be served to the widows and orphans of slain media people if there is no final conviction of the accused, particularly the masterminds.

In most of the cases, such conviction has long been delayed, and "justice delayed is justice denied," Antonio said.

The NPC president also lauded Secretary Remonde’s consistent efforts to follow up the implementation of the President’s directives issued in an effort to act fast to solve or stop the killings.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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