DAVAO CITY – 28 Aug. 2009 - The head of a government information agency in the Davao Region on Thursday said police need to bare results of its investigation into media killings in Davao City .
Efren Elbanbuena, regional director of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), jested police probe on the killing of local journalists have been summed up in the acronym “DNA.” DNA is the medical process of identifying bodies through gene-matching with close relatives.
Elbanbuena sparked guffaws from local journalists attending a forum on press freedom in Davao City on Thursday when he spelled out DNA as “Di Namin Alam “(We don’t know).
The PIA director was one of resource speakers at the forum organized by the Tri-Media Organization for Peace and Alliance in Mindanao (Tropa) which spearheaded the 22nd anniversary of the August 27, 1987 bombing of radio station DXRA. Four radio broadcasters, including anti-communist crusader Leo Palo, were killed in the attack later claimed by the communist New Peoples Army (NPA). Two radio technicians and three civilians visiting the station also perished in the early evening assault at the station along Magallanes Street at the heart of the city.
Elbanbuena said victims of recent media killings in Davao City , like the DXRA attack, remained unsolved, referring to the 2003 murder of broadcaster Jun Pala and the 2007 fatal ambush of radioman Ferdie “Batman” Lintuan.
Until now, we are in the dark as to whether these killings are job-related or not, he said, adding there is a need to clarify if the victims were killed for other reasons than being their members of the working press, according to Elbanbuena.
What we have now is nothing but speculations, he said.
In the forum, Elbanbuena urged retired Army General and now Representative Jovito Palparan of the partylist Bantay and Representative Jun Alcover of Anad to pass a resolution in Congress asking the Philippine National Police to submit a final report on the Pala and Lintuan killings.
Palparan and Alcover were also resource speakers in the forum held at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP).
But Elbanbuena said media could avoid being next on the list of slain media if they stick to the journalists’ code of ethics make accountability and responsibility as the driving force in their commentaries.
The PIA director also urged media to form press clubs which would impose regulations on members. The media is a watchdog, but who would watch over the watchdog? he posited this question to emphasize the need for members of the press to understand that press freedom is not absolute.
ROGER M. BALANZA
ANAD Mindanao News and Info Bureau
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