The Philippine Star

Stopping impunity


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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