IFJ slams Philippines’ government for inaction, after month of murders, attacks and death threats against journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is appalled by the continued inaction of the Philippines Government in protecting journalists after a journalist was viciously wounded, an attempted abduction of a journalist, a broadcaster received death threats, and three media workers were murdered in the last month.

Ten journalists have now been killed in the Philippines just this year, which is more than the total number killed in rest of the Asia-Pacific region. This latest murder brings the toll to 45 media workers killed under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“Devastating numbers of journalists are being killed in the Philippines and something urgently needs to be done to stop these killings,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

“It is disgraceful that after so many senseless murders and being ranked as the second most dangerous country for journalists in the world, after Iraq, the government of the Philippines is still not making a stand to put an end to these targeted killings,” Warren said.

“The impunity for those that attack, maim and murder journalists must come to an end,” Warren said.

The IFJ, the global organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, commended its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) for its continued monitoring of threats to media workers and its unwavering dedication to the protection of journalists and the fight for press freedom.

“It is vital that all violence against journalists and any attempts to intimidate and undermine press freedom, are documented and recorded,” Warren said.

Provincial reporter escapes attempted abduction in Languna
Dick Garay, journalist for Police Files Tonite and a correspondent of the Manila-based radio DZME, reportedly escaped an attempted abduction on August 15 by unidentified persons in Calamba City in Laguna. He has reported the incident to the police. According to local reports, Garay had been writing about jueteng (an illegal numbers game) in the Calabarzon (referring to the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon), linking police officials to its operations.

Newspaper reporter shot in Valenzuela
According the NUJP, an unknown assailant shot Tiktik reporter Roger Banisal on August 14 in Valenzuela City. Banisal reportedly remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Photojournalist killed in Malabon City
Melendrez, a photojournalist from Manila newspaper Tanod, was murdered outside his house in Malabon on July 31. According to local reports Melendres was a cousin of Saksi Ngayon photojournalist Albert Orsolino, who was murdered on in Caloocan City on May 16.

Broadcaster killed in Digos
Less than a fortnight earlier broadcaster Armando “Racman” Pace was reportedly shot on his way home by two motorcycle-riding assassins on July 18 in the southern city of Digos.

Camera-operator killed in Caloocan City
On July 28, camera-operator Ralph Runez from the television station RPN-9 was shot dead in front of his house in Calloocan City, according to the NUJP.

Broadcaster receives death threats in Kalinga
Hazel Gup-ay, a broadcaster for government-run radio station Radyo ng Bayan dzRK, reportedly fears for her life after receiving death threats via text messages to her mobile phone. According to the NUJP, the messages started after Gup-ay’s reports of an ambush of a militant leader on July 31, and have since intensified.

“These murders, attacks and threats indicate that there has been no attempt to protect the lives of journalists in the Philippines. The government needs to bring the people responsible to justice and quickly if there is any hope of restoring the already deplorable safety levels in the country,” Warren said.

The IFJ calls for the government to immediately launch independent investigation into the murders of Melendrez, Pace and Runez, the assault on Banisal, the attempted kidnapping of Garay, the intimidation of Gup-ya and into all other unsolved attacks on journalists in the Philippines.

For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries