Journalist death toll under President Arroyo now at 50

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the murder of Filipino newspaper editor Hernani Pastolero Sr. outside his home on the morning of February 19.

According to local reports, Pastelero was shot twice in the back of the head by a single gunman, with police yet to ascertain the motive behind the murder of the 30-year old journalist.

“Yet another atrocity has been allowed to occur in the Philippines,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

“The government’s inaction is a gross abuse of human rights and press freedom and has lead to the inexcusable death of another colleague,” Warren said.

This latest murder brings the number of journalists killed under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to 50; an appalling record given that Arroyo’s administration came to power in 2001.

Pastelero is the first journalist killed in the Philippines for 2007, suggesting that the culture of impunity fostered by the administration’s inaction and apparent disregard for human rights, will be allowed to remain for the coming year.

“Journalists throughout the world speak with one voice on this issue,” Warren said.

“The IFJ, representing over 500,000 journalists globally, sends a clear message to the Arroyo administration that their inaction is un-acceptable and the culprits for these murders must be brought to justice,” Warren said.

The Arroyo administration has been criticised for its continued unwillingness to acknowledge killings and its lack of attempts to apprehend the culprits.

President Arroyo’s recent decision to withhold the Melo Report from the press angered journalists, who have argued it is yet another tactic by the government to suppress incriminating information which directly relates to the safety of journalists.

The death comes just days before the International Day of Action on February 23, organised by the IFJ and its affiliate in the Philippines, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, where journalists throughout the world are being asked to show their continued support to Filipino journalists who persist in their fight against the impunity and for journalist safety in the Philippines.

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

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