It’s a shame for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that she will exit the presidency with yet another killing of a journalist in Mindanao, that of Mati City broadcaster Desiderio ‘Jessie’ Camangyan.
Her legacy, indeed, is the legacy of impunity.
Camangyan’s death shows how the culture of impunity, which Arroyo thrived on to cling to power, has been carried on by power-hungry elites and politicians in the rest of the country, to the point of eliminating human rights defenders that get in their way.
Such is the case of Camangyan, who in his radio programs had criticized the illegal logging activities in Davao Oriental, something that not many broadcasters in the province dare touch as they know its bitter consequence of facing the ire of local politicians that protect these activities.
Camangyan was apparently among the few who stood and defied the consequences and was bold enough to denounce the environmental plunder and political abuse.
His killers knew that Camangyan was a threat who must be stopped.
And they did—in the full view of the public, including his wife and six-year old son.
It was brazen as it was heartless, a manner that sends a signal that the culture of impunity has become more audacious and scary.
It is brazen as well that those behind this murder think that they can get away with murder, that those with power will carry on the impunity perpetrated by Arroyo without fear of prosecution.
It is a signal as well for other human rights defenders and environmental advocates in the province to watch out. A threat that Sr. Stella Matutina, OSB, who also was harassed last year by the military for her anti-mining advocacy, sees as a warning that those who get in the way of the rich will be silenced.
The Arroyo regime exits with shame for the nation and the international community. We hold her accountable for Camangyan’s death as well as the other human rights defenders and journalists killed under her regime.
Justice must be served; the culture of impunity must end. This is a challenge that the incoming Aquino administration must act on, to inspire our hopes that justice will come.
BISHOP FELIXBERTO CALANG
Barug Katungod Mindanao
Barug Katungod Mindanao (Mindanao Stand Up for Human Rights) is a consortium of human rights and peace groups in Mindanao including InPeace Mindanao, Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao, Sisters’ Association in Mindanao (Samin), and is supported by the European Commission under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) program.