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Bayan Muna Reps.Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate condemn the inutility of the Aquino administration in the midst of continuing attacks and threats against the media.

The solons issued the statement in reaction to the ambush by unidentified armed group on an ABS-CBN crew in Marawi, Lanao del Sur last Saturday.

“The sheer inutility of the Aquino government in stopping attacks and threats on journalists and critics of the government in the past five years is the very culprit of this continuing state of impunity in our country,”Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said.

The ambush occurred after a military-backed paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani also openly vowed to ambush journalists covering the anniversary of communist rebels in Surigao del Sur.

“This worsening state of impunity and lawlessness is now becoming a hallmark of the exiting Aquino administration,” said Rep. Zarate, himself a former journalist based in Mindanao.

“In particular, the Magahat-Bagani group are no different from the terrorist group Abu Sayaff by openly uploading a video in social media directly threatening members of the press. Even more dangerous, they also emulate the dreaded Jovito Palparan’s definition of who are their enemies and who are not,” Rep. Zarate said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Colmenares said that “like the case of the infamous 2009 Ampatuan Massacre in Maguindanao, the ambush on the ABS-CBN crew and the threats issued by the Magahat-Bagani group is “emblematic of the dangers posed by private armies, militias, and paramilitaries.”

“This lends credence to the existence of government’s policy, tacit or otherwise, of allowing the burgeoning of private armies as pawns of the military and police in the government’s counter-insurgency campaigns,”added Colmenares.

“As a result, human rights abuses – particularly those directed to opposition members or critics of government and its policies – have apparently become part of the political environment because of the failure of the government to bring those responsible to justice. The Aquino administration, he said, is not serious in addressing the problem posed by paramilitary or private armed groups,” said the Makabayan senatorial candidate.

Rep. Zarate added that “contrary to his campaign promise, Pres. Aquino reneged on the revocation of Executive Order 546, issued in 2006 by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, which allows the arming of paramilitary groups,”

“It was the same EO cited by the Ampatuans to justify the existence of its “private army” to consolidate its dynastic hold of Maguindanao and the ARMM but in the guise of supposedly fighting the Moro rebels,” said Zarate.

“As it is now, Executive Order 546 is still an available tool for warlords, powerful politicians and the military to justify arming these militias for political and economic ends.The Philippines is now ranked as the fourth worst spot where journalists have been murdered without a single perpetrator being convicted, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2015 Global Impunity Index,” he added.

“Since September 2005, at least 44 journalists were murdered with complete impunity, including seven (7) under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III,” ended Zarate. ###

News Release
December 28, 2015
References: Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares, Carlos Isagani Zarate