Arroyo wants ‘tracker teams’ on media killers
By Joel Guinto
First Posted 15:39:00 03/11/2009
MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered police to form “tracker teams” to hunt down suspects in the killings of journalists in the wake of fresh violence against media men, officials said.
Arroyo issued the directive during a meeting in Malacañang on Wednesday with representatives from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), and the Philippine Press Institute (PPI).
“We have been tasked by the President to form tracker teams to look for and arrest the 27 [suspects] with warrants,” said Director Raul Bacalzo, chief of the national police Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) and concurrent chief of a task force on the solution of media killings.
Arroyo suggested putting up of bounties for suspects in media killings and ordered the release of P2 million for journalists’ “freedom fund,” Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said.
The President also directed the PNP to coordinate with media organizations on journalists under threat, and hold trainings for reporters on how to respond when under threat, he said.
In response to the request of media organizations, the President also directed the police to consider a case solved only when the suspect has been arrested or convicted, Remonde said.
Previously, police consider cases solved when the suspects are identified.
“We appreciate everything that can be done. We do not demand special treatment, we just demand that authorities do their job,” NUJP vice chairman and INQUIRER.net editor Jaime Espina said.
Bacalzo said that from 2001 to 2009, police have recorded 61 killings of journalists, 31 of which were work-related, while the rest were non work-related.
The police also identified 84 suspects, of which 34 have been arrested, 50 are still at large, with 27 having warrants for their arrest.
Bacalzo said four cases involved policemen, four were soldiers, two mayors, and some communist guerrillas.
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