The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in mourning the murder of newspaper publisher and columnist Benefredo Acabal on April 7.
Acabal, who was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in Pasig, is the first Filipino journalist killed in 2008 and the 56th killed under the Arroyo administration. The IFJ extends its deep condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Acabal as he is laid to rest today.
Acabal published the tabloid Pilipin Newsmen and wrote a column under the pen name Freddie Yanco. He had four children, aged four to nine, the NUJP reports.
In a tribute to Acabal, the NUJP said that the manner of his killing, in the heart of metropolitan Manila, highlighted the extent of the culture of impunity against journalists and activists in the Philippines. The NUJP expressed its dismay that the death toll of journalists under the Arroyo administration has surpassed the toll under 14 years of the Marcos dictatorship, and continues to rise.
Fears about the lack of official action on the killings of journalists and the Government’s repeated attempts to muzzle the press have scared journalists into “the ultimate censorship”, according to the NUJP.
“For so long as this administration fails to arrest, prosecute and convict the murderers, for so long as it persists to threaten us with laws designed to curtail the exercise of our calling, the blood of our colleagues will stain this Government as much as it does the actual killers and masterminds,” the NUJP said in its tribute to Acabal.
“We call on the public, our audiences and readers, to stand up with us to demand respect and protection for press freedom and the people's right to know. Whatever the imperfections of the Philippine press are, it continues to serve as a crucial vehicle for the people to get the information they need to make informed decisions about their individual and collective lives.
“As we prepare to commemorate World Press Freedom Day next month – commemorate, not celebrate – we once again declare, we will not be cowed.”
The IFJ stands in solidarity with the NUJP, the country’s leading journalists’ rights organisation, in supporting the many journalists in the Philippines whose lives are under constant threat.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries