Do a Better Job in Protecting Human Rights, CSO and Media Urged
April 29, 2008

THE director of Western Mindanao State University’s Center for Peace and Development (WMSU-CPD) has called for the strengthening of civil society organizations and for more responsible journalism practice in the city to protect the populace’s human rights and bring justice to victims of its violation.

WMSU-CPD director Dr. Marcie Carpizo made the remarks as she welcomed on behalf of university president Dr. Grace J. Rebollos the participants to a round-table discussion on the topic of “Media, Civil Soceity, Human Rights and Peace: Giving Voice to the Victims”. The forum was held at the WMSU Moot Court of the Law College yesterday, April 28.

Dr. Carpizo said “to preserve humanity in all circumstances a call for dialogue, rebuilding of trust in public authorities, strengthening democracy, working for peace, protecting human rights, combating corruption, sustaining the rights of indigenous peoples, and promoting sustainable development are necessary”.

The afternoon-long RTD (round-table discussion) was attended by participants coming from civil society, media, and religious sector including notably Archbishop Romulo Valles, Ateneo de Zamboanga University president Fr. Antonio Moreno, SJ and Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) president Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF.

The event was jointly sponsored by the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project of the UK-based Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWMPR), National Union of Journalists of the Phils. (NUJP), Center for Community Journalism and Development (CCJD), Mindanews and WMSU.

A woman survivor of February 4’s massacre of civilians in Barangay Ipil, Maimbung municipality, Sulu narrated to participants how members of her family and some neighbors were killed by alleged AFP troops in a pre-dawn raid of village. Eight civilians including three children were killed in the incident. Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regional office director Atty, Jose Manuel Mamauag said in the RTD that his office has subpoenaed the soldiers suspected to be involved in the raid.

Mindanews editor-in-chief Carolyn Arguillas in moderating the RTD said it aims to improve local media’s capacity for effective peace reporting particularly because the frequent conflicts in the region result in many violations of human rights. The RTD sought the views and suggestions of civil society and religious leaders how that aim may be achieved.

Fr. Calvo and Fr. Moreno lamented over the failure of mainstream local media to report effectively and critically on human rights and similar cases and issues. Instead, they said, local media is stuck in narrow and shallow news reporting agenda and thus fall short in accomplishing its mandate as society’s watchdog. (Rey-Luis Banagudos-PAO-WMSU)