Media ‘movement’ factor in media-slay cases

THE “victim’s movement and exposure predictability” are factors common to the murder of journalists over the past nine years, according to investigators from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The chief of the PNP Directorate for Investigative and Detective Management (DIDM) and concurrent head of Task Force Usig, Chief Supt. Arturo Cacdac, said predictability had become the greatest enemy of journalists under threat and the best ally of assassins.

Investigators of the task force, formed to probe extrajudicial killings, said that, with few exceptions, the attacks on journalists occurred at, or just a short distance from, the victims’ homes. The exceptions were attacks at or near their workplaces or along the routes they took at certain times of the day.

“Victim movement and exposure predictability provides a simple operational reason why a victim’s residence or a point near his residence is the best choice as site of an attack,” Cacdac said in a statement. “The level of predictability of a potential target determines how easily he or she can be identified as a target for assassination, kidnapping or harassment.”

This observation is among several included in the “Handbook on Personal Security Measures for Media Practitioners” published by the PNP as part of efforts to provide protection to journalists under threat.

The Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) under Cacdac has published an initial 2,000 copies of the 48-page handbook for circulation to regional police offices and media organizations.

Aside from explaining how an attacker uses predictability, the handbook also tackles measures that a potential target can take to enhance personal security.

Task Force Usig has recorded 39 work-related media killings since 2001 and claimed to have solved 85 percent of these.

This figure is way below the count of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which has documented 104 media murders in the nine years Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was president.

PNP Director General Raul Bacalzo has called the publication of the handbook “timely as no less than President Benigno Simeon C Aquino III has directed the PNP to address the unlawful killings of media and militants particularly the investigation of cases as well as boosting security measures for those under threat.”

“The intention (of the handbook) is to provide media practitioners with the basic knowledge and practical skills in securing themselves and their family, determining possible threats and improving communications among all concerned including local PNP units,” Bacalzo said. Anthony Vargas

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