General Santos City â€“ Regional militant umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN-SOCSKSARGEN) today strongly condemned the killing of Alfredo Velarde, 43, Circular Manager of Brigada News, at dawn yesterday in front of the companyâ€™s office in NLSA Road, Lagao.
â€œWe strongly condemn the killing of Alfredo Velarde. The incident clearly exposed of how dangerous is the country especially in General Santos City for the media workersâ€ said Ryan Lariba secretary general of BAYAN-SOCSKSARGEN.
According to reports, Velarde was about to enter the companyâ€™s compound when two motorcycle-riding assailants shot him at close range. The victim sustained several gunshot wounds, one in his face killing him on the spot.
The attacks against media workers are serious attacks to press freedom and the right of the people to be informed. In the country, activists and media people critical of anti-people government policies and those who are courageous enough to expose corruption issues become subject to ruthless killings.
Since the 1980s, there have been 13 journalists and media workers assassinated in General Santos City, excluding victims of the Ampatuan massacre, the single massive killing of journalists and media workers in recent history.
Lariba also criticized the Aquino government for â€œletting impunity reign by failing to prosecute the murderers and masterminds of media killings.â€
â€œWith this, the Aquino government is equally liable to the killing of journalists and media workers,â€ Lariba added.
Justice for media killings in GenSan now
BAYAN-SOCSKSARGEN urged the local government to take up concrete steps in bringing swift justice for Velarde and other victims of extrajudicial killings in the city..
â€œWe urge the local government to seriously and immediately resolve the spate of killings here,â€ Lariba stressed.
The group said Executive Order 23 of Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio, declaring General Santos city as a no-firearm zone in August 13, 2010, â€œproved futile because the killings continue."
Reportedly, there have been more than 30 cases of killings in the city this year alone. On the average, the killings claim at least two to three victims per week.
â€œIf the local government is serious in resolving the killings, a gun ban is not enough. It should take a more active stance in bringing perpetrators and masterminds to justice. Impunity should end now,â€ Lariba said.