Politicians are expected to represent citizens and legislate laws that will provide opportunities regardless of age, gender, or social class. But recently, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri earned the ire of netizens after making comments on human rights violations and the current landscape for journalists in the country. Here’s what happened.
An appeal to the media
Hindi yan ang trabaho ng media. pic.twitter.com/L5Y0Zm6rUB
— Nuelle⁷ 🌸 (@nuelleduterte) November 8, 2022
In a press briefing, Sen. Migz Zubiri asked the media to help beautify the country’s image to the international community. The statement comes after the United Nations Human Rights Committee aired apprehension about the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“I appeal to the media, tulungan niyo naman kami na pagandahin ang imahe ng Pilipinas,” he said.
The Senate President also cited some recent developments on the case of the killed broadcast commentator Percy Lapid: “Tumulong naman kayo iannounce yan sa buong mundo. Buti sana kung hindi inaksyunan. If hindi inaksyunan eh di sana I’ll stand with you here. Pero inaksyunan nila. Kaya iyan ang apila ko. We are a free media.”
Sen. Migz Zubiri speaks about the country’s alleged human rights violations
LUMANG TUGTUGIN NA YAN’
Senate President Migz Zubiri dismisses the latest UN Human Rights Committee report saying the Philippines has “grave human rights violations and extremely high number of extrajudicial killings” | via Jom Garner pic.twitter.com/tRv9xIPtYC
— Daily Tribune (@tribunephl) November 7, 2022
When Sen. Zubiri was asked about the alleged human rights violations and drug-related extrajudicial killings in the country, he said it’s an old issue. “Lumang tugtugin na yan,” he says.
Zubiri adds that during his visit to the EU (the European Union), “they discussed a bit of human rights,” but told them that President Bongbong Marcos Jr. has instructed the police to implement maximum tolerance regarding human rights.
“So, as you can see, wala naman akong nakikitang namamatay. I haven’t heard in the last weeks,” he added.
The chilling effect
Migz Zubiri not comprehending what chilling effect means is but a symptom of how leaders here treat human rights and its defenders.
— ross tugade (@rosselle) November 7, 2022
“Do you want the chilling effect? You all go to China. Can I invite you to China and do your reporting there? You will be caught on site and brought on site. That’s a chilling effect,” the senator further said.
These were the words of Sen. Zubiri in response to the notion of chilling effect in the country linked to media killings and press freedom. He then went on to say that our media is free. “In Malaysia, there’s an Anti-Terror Law wherein you are not allowed to say bad things against government programs, they can shut you down. Same goes to Vietnam.”
Netizens balked at Sen. Migz Zubiri’s remarks
Some say Sen. Zubiri’s statements on human rights violations only show there aren’t enough efforts made to address the problem.
I’ll take the word of UN experts over Sen. Migz Zubiri on the topic of human rights violations. He cannot refute the numbers. The fact that, “Lumang tugtugin na iyan,” as he says shows not enough is being done to solve the problem. As senate president, he is also accountable.
— Miss Maggie (@MiaMagdalena) November 7, 2022
Others pointed out that journalists are tasked to report the country’s real situation — not make lies.
Mr.Zubiri ,Media’s role is to present the real condition of the country. If hindi maganda ang kalagayan at sitwasyon ng bansa, paano kayo tutulungan? Ini-expect ninyo ba na magsisinungaling sila para pagandahin ang imahe? pic.twitter.com/Sj2g9mEk1o
— NICA ( NEW ACCOUNT 🌷🌷) (@Apple58720109) November 8, 2022
People also pointed out that the Phillippines has been listed as one of the worst countries where ‘killers of journalists get away with murder.’ According to them, Filipino journalists often have to censor what they say in public for fear of their lives.
This is what the Senate President got wrong. For 15 years now, the Philippines has been among the worst countries in the world where ‘killers of journalists get away with murder.’ For this reason alone, even the ‘lumang tugtugin’ ought to be played again and again. https://t.co/PfgSlyh3uE
— Jayeel Cornelio (@jayeel_cornelio) November 7, 2022
The plight of journalists in the country
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), over 100 journalists have been killed since 1986. The Maguindanao massacre, where 32 journalists lost their lives is probably one of the darkest chapters of press freedom in the country’s history.
Recently, radio journalist Percy Lapid was shot dead on his way home in Las Piñas City. And just two days ago, a teacher and part-time editorial cartoonist was found dead in Sultan Kudarat. These incidents reflect there are more things that need to be done to protect the welfare of journalists, and hopefully, there’ll be a day when media correspondents can report the truth without fear of impending threats.
What are your thoughts on Sen. Migz Zubiri’s statements? Let us know in the comments!