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“Remember, do not forget, Maguindanao massacre”

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LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith---and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God---not by works, so that no one can boast…” (Ephesians 2:8-9, the Holy Bible).

“REMEMBER, DO NOT FORGET, MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE”: “Remember, do not forget, the Maguindanao massacre!” This is now the battlecry of journalists, newsmen, and radio and TV personalities in Cagayan De Oro City, as they celebrated on Monday, May 21, 2012, their 30th Press Freedom Week, coinciding with the founding of the Cagayan De Oro City Press Club 30 years ago.

I was privileged enough to have participated in the press freedom activities in the city, with early-morning interviews at radio station DXCC, the flagship station of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), in a program hosted by broadcasters Rey Maraunay, Liza Reyes and Alwin Saliring, and with Lorenzo Luzon of ABS CBN Cagayan de Oro City, at the start of the festivities.

Rey Cabaraban, a former radio broadcaster himself who is now the managing editor of the Visayas-Mindanao news tabloid “Silip Balita”, arranged the interviews. Rey told me that rival and competing Cagayan De Oro City media practitioners decided to set aside their professional and personal differences to meet every 23rd of every month, to remember their comrades who died in the Maguindanao massacre on November 23, 2009.

DECRIMINALIZATION OF LIBEL PUSHED: During the interviews, I was asked to comment on the on-going trial of the massacre being conducted by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. My comment was that, I am generally satisfied with the pace of the proceedings, although there is more to be desired in expediting it a little further.

I also had an opportunity to expound on several advocacies which I am trying to fight for and which has been adopted by “1 ANG BATAS” Party List, a regional-sectoral party list organization undergoing registration and accreditation by the Commission on Elections.

The first advocacy I discussed was the decriminalization of libel, and its removal from the Revised Penal Code as a criminal offense. I am pushing for this in the light of the Constitutional guarantee of free press and free expression. Since the Constitution is a law higher than the Revised Penal Code, the provisions of the Code on libel as a criminal offense should give way to the Constitutional guarantee.

MEDIAMEN AS PERSONS IN AUTHORITY: The second advocacy I discussed was the enactment of a law that would grant mediamen the status of a “person in authority”. I am suggesting this because there is a need to elevate the status of mediamen over and above other professionals in view of the importance of the work they do in informing, educating and entertaining the public and in keeping democracy and truth and justice alive.

The fact is, when a barangay captain is pushed by anyone on account of anger, the offender is to be charged with direct assault, a grave felony warranting imprisonment for six years. On the other hand, when a mediaman is stabbed or shot and miraculously escapes death, the charge is only physical injuries.

Then, I am also pushing for the giving of educational grants to media practitioners, either sourced out locally or from foreign donors, to give them more expertise and dignity in their craft, elevating them from mere run-of-the-mill practitioners to possible Pulitzer price winners.

REACTIONS? Please call me at 0917 984 24 68, 0922 833 43 96 or 0918 574 0193. Email me at batasmauricio@yahoo.com.

BY ATTY. BATAS MAURICIO




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