2005 Media Death Toll Tops 100 After Tenth Journalist Killed in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says 2005 is turning into another “shocking and devastating year for press freedom” with another journalist killed in the Philippines bringing the total number of reporters and media staff killed over the year to more than 100.

On December 1, 2005 George Benaojan reporter for DYDD radio and Bantay Balita columnist in Talisay City, Cebu, was shot by an unidentified attacker. He was the third journalist in the Philippines to be killed in the last two weeks.

“These killings are not just a terrible pain to bear for media in the Philippines,” said Christopher Warren IFJ President. “They are part of a pattern of continuing violence against journalists around the world which is making 2005 another shocking and devastating year for press freedom.”

The IFJ Executive Committee meeting in Sydney, Australia this week was told that the total number of journalists and media staff killed so far this year had reached at least 104, down on the figures for last year, but still one of the worst years on record.

The IFJ Executive Committee endorsed a draft resolution presented to United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan last month calling for action against governments that do not track down and bring to trial the killers of journalists.

The problem of impunity is highlighted in the Philippines where the killing of Benaojan brings to 10 the number of journalists killed in the country this year, the 73rd since 1986 and the 36th since President Gloria Arroyo took power in January 2001.

Most of these cases have not led to proper investigations or charges against the perpetrators, but ironically, only two days before Benaojan was killed Cebu City Regional Trial Court convicted Guillermo Wapile, a police officer for the May 13, 2002 murder of print, radio and television journalist, Edgar Damaleiro.

“The incredibly dangerous environment facing journalists in the Philippines demands action on all sides,“ said Warren. “Every case must be investigated, every killer must be brought to justice.”

The IFJ is working closely with its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to tackle the safety crisis facing journalists and media. “The government of President Arroyo must take immediate and decisive action and bring an end to this violence,” said Warren.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries