Open letter to the Philippines’ President: Act now to dismantle culture of impunity

Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Email: [email protected]
Dear President Arroyo,

On December 20, Laoag City radio broadcaster Andres “Andy” Acosta was stabbed to death in Batac, Ilocos Norte. Acosta’s brutal murder now brings the total up to 48 journalists killed since you came to power in 2001.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), as the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, implores you to take immediate action and put an end to the senseless bloodshed, and ensure those responsible for these deaths are brought to justice.

According to IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), a police official interviewed on radio station dzBB said the Acosta’s murder was most likely related to Acosta's "line of work".

Acosta reportedly worked for Laoag radio station dzJC Aksyon Radyo (Action Radio), an affiliate of the Manila Broadcasting Company (MBC). It is the same station where Roger Mariano, a broadcaster killed on July 31, 2004, worked.

The 12th journalist killed this year, Acosta’s murder adds to an already appalling record and sends a strong message to the world that your administration does not place any value on the lives of journalists or in an independent media and informed public.

What is even more terrifying about these figures is that almost all the perpetrators of these brutal crimes remain unpunished, and despite the establishment of the Melo Commission, journalist killers still walk free, while journalists continue to be fatally silenced.

The NUJP’s tireless efforts, including their latest information campaign for journalists safety - “20 steps to safety", in campaigning for a free and safe media, highlights the terrible reality for journalists in the Philippines.

The IFJ echoes the NUJP’s calls for your government to act now to end the culture of impunity and show the world your nation protects its citizens, punishes criminals, and values press freedom and democracy.

This has gone on far too long, and too many lives have been wasted, for your government to remain idle.

Yours sincerely,

Christopher Warren
International Federation of Journalists