IFJ Urges Presidential Commitment to End Philippines’ Culture of Impunity

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges

the incoming administration of Benigno Aquino in the Philippines to make a public commitment

to defend journalists’ right to safety and to undertake immediate action to end

the country’s notorious culture of impunity.



and its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists

of the Philippines (NUJP),

also call on the Philippines Congress to ratify the Freedom of Information Bill

which is to be deliberated in the Congress tomorrow. It will be the last opportunity

to pass the Bill before the Congress ends its session. If the Bill is not

ratified tomorrow, it will have to be re-filed before the new Congress.


“It has

taken 14 years, or four Congresses, for the Freedom of Information Bill to

reach this far. Failure to ratify tomorrow will set the whole process back yet

again. We urge Congress representatives not to let this happen, and to make the

Bill law,” a visiting IFJ mission team said.


In the Philippines

this week, local journalists advised IFJ representatives that they expected

continuing risks for media personnel despite the conclusion of national

elections in May. Post-election tensions and the failure of the outgoing

administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to prevent and act on long-term violence

against journalists remain key concerns, notably in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.


During the

IFJ’s visit to a new regional safety office established by the NUJP in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao,

local journalists stressed that provincial and district power holders and clan

leaders continue to apply intimidation and violent tactics against media

personnel, in the absence of appropriate counter-action from central authorities.


In the

month up to the May 10 elections, the office responded to sundry threats and cases

of intimidation as well as several serious incidents,

including the illegal detention of seven journalists on Camiguin Island

from May 9 to 11. The office intervened quickly to gain the release and safe

passage of the journalists from the “custody” of Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus

“JJ” Romualdo and his supporters, who had detained the group as they sought to

report on alleged vote buying in the area.


However, local

journalists fear similar incidents may continue post-election as provincial

power-holders jostle for control and test the new administration. They note the

slow judicial process to prosecute those who initiated and carried out the massacre of 58 people,

including 32 journalists and media workers, in Maguindanao province, Mindanao,

last November 23.


“In view of anti-media intimidation

and violence throughout the election campaign, and concerns that such incidents

will continue, the Commission on Elections, local governments and the

Commission on Human Rights must conduct a full, impartial and prompt investigation

into all attacks on media personnel during the campaign,” the IFJ mission team



The IFJ and the NUJP regret that Aquino was

unavailable to meet their representatives this week to provide a personal

assurance that he would ensure political, army and police leaders act to end

the culture of impunity for violence against journalists, and to take all

necessary actions to provide justice to the families and colleagues of the Maguindanao victims.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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