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Why is the NBI Going After Those Who Uploaded the Sagonoy Video?

ccording to NBI Director Virgilio Mendez, they have identified the individuals who uploaded the video showing the coldblooded killing of PO2 Joseph Sagonoy. The cellphone video was purportedly taken by Muslim rebels during the Jan. 25, 2014 encounter between the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group. The video shows a wounded Sagonoy who is shot twice in the head at close range.
The last moments of SAF trooper PO2 Joseph Sagonoy's life that were caught on video show the horrific and cold-blooded murder carried out by Muslim rebels who say they want peace
The video is no doubt disturbing but it depicts a reality that needs to be told. Suppressing it or threatening anyone who distributes it makes absolutely no sense in a democracy—which the Philippines purports to be. In fact Mendez even boasts "our computer experts have started the forensic analysis to identify the other personalities in the film clip." Something that he and his team would not be able to do if the video was never made public.

Not surprisingly, the laidback and often clueless leaders of the Philippine press have not picked up on this travesty. There seems to be no condemnation or even questioning of the NBI's heavy-handed actions. In the 1960s a video of United States President John F. Kennedy captured the actual moment he was shot in the head. The Zapruder film as it is now known was never banned nor was Abraham Zapruder, the person who filmed it, ever sanctioned for it. That film in fact is now an integral part of American history.

Using what many see as an obviously flawed law like the Philippines' Cybercrime Law to stifle press freedom and sweep gruesome and uncomfortable images "under the rug" only highlights not only the immaturity and insecurity of Philippine public officials, but more importantly it denies the Filipino people the reality they need to be aware of as citizens in a democracy.

In a few days the country will be celebrating the 29th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution. It was in late February of 1986 when the Filipino people finally rose up and overthrew a corrupt and evil dictator from power. In the 1970s Ferdinand Marcos had a distinct advantage of almost total control of the media. He simply clamped down on the press and the networks, so he could then control what Filipinos read, heard and saw. There was no Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter back then. No cellphone cameras, no text messaging. If there was, Marcos' martial law regime would never have lasted as long as it did. The murders and terrible tortures inflicted on thousands of Filipinos, had those been recorded and shown to the public—as they can today—would have unmasked Marcos and his martial law regime as the epitome of evil that it was. And he and his minions would have been removed from power or killed long before 1986.

The Philippines still has a long way to go when it come to press freedom. The just released World Press Freedom Index published by the group Reporters Without Borders shows the country ranked 141st out of a total of 180 countries.  And using the Cybercrime law to prevent legitimate though uncomfortable videos from ever reaching the public, could send the country's ranking down to the bottom where it can share such ignominy with dictatorships, banana republics, and failed states that prefer keeping their citizens dumb and clueless. Published 2/21/2015


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