Tuesday, May 30, 2006

To arm or not to arm

Thank you to friends and colleagues who never tired of reminding me to be always safe.

Thank you to all those who offered security escorts.

Thank you too for the offer of guns.

I continue to believe that the best defense against threats to media and the spate of media killings is the ethical practice of journalism.

I also believe that the government should address these killings and erase the culture of impunity in the murder of journalists.

Every citizen, including journalists, can buy a gun, apply for a license and even ask for a permit to carry. There should be no special considerations if one is a journalist or a politician.

But that is beside the point.

The point is arming journalists is not the solution to the murders of journalists. Government officials who advise that journalists should arm to protect themselves don’t know what they are saying.

There is no point debating whether journalists can arm or not. It is always an individual’s choice. In Basilan, for instance, there are more guns than the population of the island. Still hundreds are killed. Some of the journalists who were killed were armed.

What can one armed journalist do when confronted with five assassins? What can one unarmed journalist do when faced with the same situation?

I admire the bravery and courage of colleagues who arm themselves.

I also admire the bravery and courage of colleagues who continue their work with strength and conviction even without the "protection" of a gun.

Again, thanks to all the armed and unarmed journalists who shared safety tips.

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