Istambay sa Mindanao

Personal blog of MindaNews' Walter I. Balane. Visit for more news, views and information on Mindanao.

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Location: Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Mindanao, Philippines

I'm Walter Balane. I am a journalist based in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines. I initiated the group called Atong Press ( for press freedom and responsibility and media education in Bukidnon.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


No, Jim, even if a journalist was libelous in his practice, that does not give anyone a license to kill him. And do not accuse me of being too silent about the reports here, there and everywhere about the killing of journalists. How dare you float the idea that I am safer just because I am not in the rural areas? How dare you say some journalists deserve to be killed?

No one deserves to be killed! Every body dies, but one has the right to live up to his last breath until his creator takes the loaned life away from him!

I am silent, yes, because I am also human apart from being a journalist.

I feel fear, I feel pain and I feel anger. I also hate, I also rage and I also cry. And as statistics of this merciless fate for my colleagues flash in my eyes, I feel sad.

My silence is there because I tended to blur between my drive as a journalist, one noble profession, and this sadness.

I feel sad because this is not only about my drive and about my fear. What drives me to work as a journalist is the same reason that drives anyone to serve others. It is the same drive that brings a public school teacher to get up early everyday and prepare for a class with little children who have not eaten breakfast and yet have walked kilometers away just to learn.

I feel sad because if they kill journalists, who aspire only to report about the truth so that we rid our freedoms from threats, then they are actually and symbolically killing our freedom of speech, freedom of expression and our other civil liberties.

Do not think that if they kill journalists, they are only trying to scare journalists and silence them in the act. They are also trying to control not only the press, but also our freedom of speech --which is among our core "rights" as a free people. That means your rights too, Jim! And, they are trying to silence not only journalists, but all including you!

It is not just another crime statistics. It is a big statement that could influence people. That is because the fear that I feel at times as I hear about these reports, is also the same fear that we are planting in the minds of our people when they also see these reports on TV!

People would soon just be blindly obedient about despotic authorities because they are afraid to oppose or protest any wrongdoing. People would soon fear anything and would soon limit their actions based on that precept.

Tolerating these killings will never be good for any society. If elements take justice into their hands, we are bound to a dangerous situation: full of fear, uncertainty and disorder. Tolerating this would push us to a state of mind where we are to dig our own grave in every death.

May we be able to conquer fear resulting from this evil. Let us rage against conditioning the minds of people. No one has the right to kill journalists. No one has a right to kill anyone! No one has the right to trample on our God-given freedom!

Today is the 586th day after MindaNews photo editor, my collegue, housemate and friend Gene Boyd R. Lumawag was killed in Jolo, Sulu. Up to now, his killers are still unknown. We are still seeking justice. We have remained steadfast in doing our job. But things will never be the same again.

Let this be both my prayer, and my rant!

("Jim" is my representation of many people whose minds are "dimmed" by circumstances resulting from the killings of journalists. I met many of these people in many public fora, formal and informal, who see journalists only as the self-crusading, self-serving animal whose work is just to expose other peoples "skeleton inthe closet" . Though a big problem of journalists' ethics and professionalism is haunting this country's news rooms, still, these pitfalls are not reasons enough for the killings. I remember "Jim" as killings are reported in our country almost everyday. Truly, this is becoming the most dangerous country for journalists to work; even if it claims to have the "freeist media in Asia. )


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