Press Release
October 18, 2006


Senate President Manny Villar, as former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, where the resolutions and bills regarding the spate of killings of media personnel and law practitioners were referred, recently filed Committee Report 150 that wrapped up the public hearings and inquiries on the said issue.

According to Villar, Despite the local and international organizations appeal to the government to seriously look into the spate of killings of journalists, judges and now political activists, the countrys reputation has not improved because of the perceived inaction about the issue. In the Senate, we have diligently looked into it and Committee Report 150 is the result of the series of hearings and inquiries we have conducted.

Committee Report No. 150, filed last week (Oct. 12), was signed by Senators Ralph Recto, Pia Cayetano, Senate President Pro Tempore Juan Flavier and Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan, Richard Gordon, Lito Lapid, Juan Ponce Enrile, Panfilo Lacson, Alfredo Lim, Sergio Osmea III, Jamby Madrigal, Jinggoy Estrada and Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

The Senate investigation on the killings of journalists and judges was jointly conducted by the Senate committees on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, Justice and Human Rights, and Public Information and Mass Media chaired by Senators Villar, Joker Arroyo and Bong Revilla Jr., respectively. It was triggered by a privilege speech and 10 resolutions filed by various senators including Villars Senate Resolution 252 directing the Senate Committee on Public Order to conduct an inquiry into the media killings.

Villar cites on his Senate Resolution that the Philippines distinction as the most murderous country for journalists is embarrassing. The climate of violence and impunity should be put to a stop by strengthening the governments will to solve crimes particularly against journalists.

Based on the report, citing data from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), since 1986, 54 journalists had been slain in the line of duty and an estimated 17 were killed for reasons not involving their work, but only two cases actually led to convictions. Meanwhile, 10 judges have been slain since 1999.

Such brazen attacks (on judges and legal professionals) undermine the administration of justice and the practice of lawBut the killings have not been limited to men in robesThe escalation of violence committed against other members of the legal profession is likewise disturbing, targeting especially those servicing the poor and the oppressed, cites the Committee Report.

Just as journalists are duty-bound to expose the truth, judges have sworn to perform their duties honestly, and with impartiality and diligenceIn either case, they should be threatened or killed for doing their job of adjudicating controversies without fear or favor or defending legal causes or issues, further cites the report.

Villar chaired the Senate Committee on Public Order since 2004 or during the first and second regular sessions of the 13th Congress. Since he assumed the Senate presidency last month, Senator Frank Drilon took over his committee chairmanship of the Public Order and Finance committees. The Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs is one of the most active and busiest among the Senates 36 permanent standing committees. It has conducted 26 public hearings or committee meetings and 22 technical working groups or consultative hearings.

Besides Committee Report 150, seven other reports have already been finalized by the committee, these are: Committee Report (CR) No. 86, based Senate Bill 2438 or the proposal to establish an integrated jail facility; CR No. 87, based on Senate Resolution 184 or the investigation into the Valentines Day bombing; CR No. 88, based on Senate Resolution 159 or the investigation into the shooting incident during the Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan; CR No. 89, based on Senate Resolution 156 or the investigation into the alleged recruitment-for-a-fee scam in the Philippine National Police (PNP); CR No. 90, based on the inquiry into the privilege speech of Senator Jinggoy Estrada denouncing the actuations of the PNP relative to the security provided for former President Joseph Estrada; CR No. 91, based on Senate Resolution 303 or the investigation on the proliferation of cybersex; and CR No. 92, based on Senate Resolution Nos. 99 and 426 or the inquiry on the proliferation of cellphone theft.

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