MANILA, Philippines - Not all media killings had anything to do with the news.
President Aquino on Thursday said a number of Filipino journalists whose deaths were classified as "media killings" were not exactly killed in the line of duty but for motives best not discussed in public.
Nonetheless, the President made it clear that, whatever the motive, the government would exert efforts to bring the killers of journalists to justice.
In a taped interview aired Thursday over Bombo Radyo, Aquino defined media killings as agents of the state "suppressing the search for the truth."
"That should not happen," he said. "Actually, killings don't really have to happen. But I can say that many [media killings] were not in the pursuit of the profession."
The President indicated that it was prudence on the part of the authorities that kept them from revealing the reasons behind the killing of some journalists.
"There are families who lost their members. Will we announce why they lost this family member? And sometimes there are mixed reasons. There are love triangle, extortion and many others. Do we want to reveal that they had personal quarrels that ended up [in a murder]?" Aquino said.
The President lamented that government silence on the cases was misconstrued as being unable to solve the murders.
"Having said that, it is not an excuse to commit a crime. We will still go after the [killers]. Sometimes, when we are silent, we just don't want to reveal the motivation [unearthed during the investigation]," he said.
He said it may be time to be more forthright and have no qualms about discussing investigations where the victims were discovered to have done something wrong and the assailant "had nowhere else to go."
Aquino said he had asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to review this proposal.
"Perhaps it is also important to complete the story so the people will know that a crime, whatever it is, has been solved in its totality," he said.
In 2013, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported 23 journalists killed since President Aquino assumed office in 2010. Earlier this year, the Philippines was ranked by the International News Safety Institute as the third-most dangerous country for journalists, after Syria and Iraq.