With the entire staff of a local Mindanao paper wiped out (along with many other reporters) in the Ampatuan massacre, Manila vice mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso wants journalists armed during the 2010 elections.
“Undeniably, what happened in Maguindanao is election-related. What assurance do we have that there will be no election-related violence even here in Metro Manila involving media members?,” he explains.
The solution, then, to the existence of large private armies who operate with impunity is to let potential victims carry guns. After all, your typical beat reporter can, if armed, fend off 100 men with big guns and their police officer pals.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines had to be called in for Andal Ampatuan Jr’s VIP arrest yesterday. Filipino reporters are among the toughest in the world, but there are limits to what courage and seven shots can do against a determined hit squad deputized by the government.
Domagoso can’t be blamed for trying, though. In a country where even the mayor of a sleepy town rolls a hundred deep, it’s the best anyone can do at this point.
Although Ampatuan Jr has been booked as a suspect in the massacre, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo doesn’t plan on cutting ties with the Ampatuan clan. Par for the course, really, given her propensity to pal around with killers and crooks like Gen. Jovito Palparan and Romeo Jalosjos. If the government itself is willing to overlook something like the Ampatuan massacre, we really might as well give journalists weapons and tell them it’s every man for himself.