International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) calls on all candidates running for President in the Philippines to
make a public commitment to overturn the country’s culture of impunity for the
killing of journalists and to observe and respect the independence of the
The call comes as the Philippines
Government announced it would drop charges of multiple murder against Zaldy and
The pair have been implicated in the
massacre of 58 people, including 32 members of the media, in the southern province of Maguindanao on November 23.
“Less than a month before national
elections on May 10, and five months after the massacre, this sudden
announcement is alarming for what it says about the commitment of power-holders
to end the culture of impunity for the killing of journalists,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
IFJ believes the decision, made by the Philippines’ Acting Secretary for
Justice, Alberto Agra, suggests political interference in the judicial process.
Ampatuan family is known for its support of the Government of Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo, and for involvement in voting irregularities that benefited President
Arroyo in 2004 and 2007.
IFJ urges the Arroyo administration not to tarnish its record further by
impeding justice at this late stage in its term of office,” Park said.
“The Government must allow the
judicial system to determine the guilt or innocence of the two accused.”
National Union of Journalists of the Philippine (NUJP),
an IFJ affiliate, said in a statement, “It is not for us to proclaim the
innocence or guilt of either Ampatuan . . . But neither is it for Agra to do so. Not after
the charges have been formally filed in court. Not after the judge has issued a
commitment order against them.
should now be for the court to judge the innocence or guilt of the 197 persons
accused of planning or carrying out the massacre.”
IFJ also calls on the presidential candidates to disclose what steps they will
take to ensure that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippines National
Police are fully trained in understanding their responsibility to provide
safety and security for journalists, in accord with the Government’s
obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738.
IFJ further urges the Philippines Department of Justice to ensure that all
court proceedings regarding the Maguindanao massacre are transparent and that
the public is permitted to scrutinise the conduct of the trial. A dedicated website
should be set up to publish all court documents and proceedings, and broadcasts
of the massacre trial must be permitted.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000
journalists in 125 countries worldwide