The Philippine Star

Stopping impunity

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The deadly attack might not be related to journalism, according to initial reports. The only way to find out, however, is to catch the killers of Manuel Lacsamana, a propety developer and quarry operator who contribute­d to the local monthly The Media Messenger and chaired the Central Luzon Media Associatio­n.

Lacsamana was on his way home from a business meeting and was driving his pick-up truck along Mabini Street in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija before midnight of June 23 when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire. He was able to continue driving a short distance but eventually died.

Whether or not the attack was related to journalism, the killers must be brought to justice. With Lacsamana’s murder, the Philippine­s will likely retain its ranking among the worst countries in the Impunity Index drawn up by the Committee to Protect Journalist­s. The Philippine­s ranked fifth worst in the latest index, which rates countries based on the number of deadly attacks on journalist­s and ability to bring the killers to justice.

The inability has made the country one of the most “murderous” and dangerous for media workers for many years now. A Presidenti­al Task Force on Media Safety has been formed, but the solution rate for journalist killings remains disappoint­ing.

The poor solution rate for all murders and homicides in this country, with thousands perpetrate­d in the past two years alone, has bred the impunity that guarantees more killings. Journalist­s aren’t the only targets. Left-leaning activists, legal profession­als and, recently, even priests have been shot dead, mostly by gunmen on motorcycle­s. With an election year approachin­g, deadly violence is expected to escalate as politician­s, believing they can get away with any crime, use murder as the ultimate weapon for permanentl­y eliminatin­g rivals.

Solving crime means not only arresting a suspect but also securing final conviction and sending the offender to prison. Hired guns and mastermind­s alike must be brought to justice. This should warrant the urgent attention of an administra­tion that professes to give priority to fighting crime. As long as people believe they can get away with breaking the law, impunity will reign.

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