The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) are saddened to report yet another journalist assassination in the Philippines - the 33rd media worker murder under President Aquino. Nilo Baculo Sr, a radio broadcaster based in Mindoro, was shot dead outside his home in Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro on Monday, June 9.
The 67-year-old was the host of Isumbong Mo kay Ka Nilo, a news talk and public service program at radio station dwIM in Calapan City. He was shot at close range by a gunman riding a motorcycle outside his home. The NUJP advised that Baculo had petitioned the court for protection after he became aware of threats for his life in 2008.
Baculo is the fourth media worker to be killed this year and the third radio broadcaster to be killed within a month. The NUJP strongly criticised this latest murder and the minimal support offered to journalists and media professionals under threat in the Philippines.
The NUJP said: “We will continue to cry out for justice. We will continue to call out Mr Aquino, as we have called out the presidents before him, for their accountability in our colleagues’ deaths, not least of all because of their apathy. We will never tire of pointing out that the State’s failure to protect its own citizens makes it accountable for each and every extrajudicial murder that makes a mockery of all claims to our being a democracy.”
Baculo’s lawyer echoed the union’s sentiments, saying: “His killing today is what happens when the court errs in their appreciation of evidence. There is blood on the hands of justices who refused to give Baculo protection.”
In 2008, Baculo had learnt of a plot to kill him from a hired gun contracted to carry out the hit. He petitioned the court for protection which was granted and the Court of Appeals granted the continuance of that protection order. However a few months later, the appellate court denied the broadcaster’s petition, stating that the supposed threat on his life was “unsubstantiated”. Following the denial of his petition, Baculo was quoted as saying “our justice system is rotten. You have to die first before you can prove that a threat does exist”.
The IFJ said: “Tragically, Nilo Baculo’s sentiments and predictions proved true. In his statements, he forecast his own murder in the face of a frustratingly poor court system that, like so many other institutions in the Philippines, fails to handle the reality for media workers and the threats they face. Why do our colleagues have to keep reporting deaths to call the government to account? When is a threat not enough when we know the realities all too well?
The IFJ said: “We support the NUJP in calling for increased support from the Government and President Benigno Aquino III for journalists in their work. Fear of retribution remains a key concern of journalists in the Philippines, and this must be overcome to ensure media freedom.”
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