AT a joint press conference in Manila after the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the United States, President Obama and President Aquino fielded questions on China, Ukraine, Putin, veterans affairs, Obama foreign policy doctrine and killings of journalists in the Philippines.

Turning to President Aquino, clad in a buttoned up barong Tagalog, a Fox News White House correspondent asked him:

“As a journalist, I’d like to ask you why 26 journalists have been killed since you took office. And I understand that there have been suspects arrested in six of those cases. What are you doing to fix that?”

Probably unprepared for the question, PNoy replied that he didn’t have the figures with him but that an interagency committee has been set up to look into extra legal killings and forced disappearances, torture and other grave violations of right to life, liberty and security of persons.

Of the 62 suspected cases of extrajudicial killings reported to the committee, he said, 10 have been determined to be EJK cases, but only one happened during his watch (the case of Rodel Estrellado).

As far as the 34 journalists killed in the Maguindanao massacre, he said over 100 people have been indicted for the crime and are undergoing trial.

When it comes to journalists, it’s not a state policy to silence critics, according to him, saying that there is an abundance of criticisms on TV, on radio and newspapers.

He disclosed that sometimes the intelligence services do not reveal their “discoveries” due to personal relationships by the people who were not killed because of professional activities but for other issues.

Still, they were killed, that’s against the law and the killers should be found, prosecuted and sent to jail, he said.

The most recent victim was a newspaper reporter and a radio talk show host who was shot dead in her home on April 6 in Bacoor City in Cavite province.

Her killing has been denounced by the director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Philippines has been ranked by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in its impunity index as the third worst place for journalists worldwide.

The Philippines, where there is an unbridled press freedom, made the CPJ blacklist for the fourth consecutive year.

At the same Malacañang presscon, PNoy made an admission that judicial reform, one of his election promises, “is still a work in progress.”

What he did not say was that through his initiative, his administration succeeded, after a Senate trial, in impeaching Chief Justice Renato Corona for violation of public trust.

This time around, the government Ombudsman has charged three opposition senators with plunder arising from the misuse of the now-banned Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The wheels of slow-motion justice are finally grinding.

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