Philippines to Follow Grim Tradition in 2006 Following Murder of Two Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fears the high journalists’ death toll that characterised the Philippines in 2005 will be repeated in 2006, following the murders of two journalists in as many days.

“The wave of killings that has landed the Philippines as the most dangerous country for media practitioners after Iraq two years running looks to be continued into 2006,” said IFJ president Christopher Warren.

“These latest two murders only reinforce the serious concerns the IFJ has about journalists’ safety in the Philippines,” said Warren.

At approximately 10am on Friday January 20, 2006, unidentified assailants riding motorcycles reportedly shot part-time radio-journalist Rolly Canete three times in the back with a .45 calibre pistol whilst he was walking home at Purok Bakaw in Barangay Kawit.

The police are currently investigating possible motives for the murder including the possibility of a political motive.

Canete is the spokesperson for both the politician Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Antonio Cerilles and his wife, the provincial governor, Aurora Cerilles. The Cerilles also control two of the three radio stations that Canete broadcast daily radio programs on.

Former radio newsman, Graciano Aquino was the second journalist to be murdered in the Philippines in 2006 when he was shot at approximately 4:40pm on Saturday, January 21, 2006, in a cockfight arena in Sitio Panibatuan in Barangay Poblacion.

Armed attackers, reportedly members of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines-Rebolusyonaryong Hukbo ng Bayan, approached Aquino and shot him at close range in the nape of the neck.

Aquino, columnist of the local newspaper Central Luzon Forum, had also formerly been a reporter of radio station, dzRH.

Aquino and Canete hold the tragic honour of being the first and second journalists’ to be killed in 2006, their murders bring the death toll to 76 journalists killed in the Philippines since 1986.

“The IFJ sends the deepest sympathies to the families and colleagues of Graciano Aquino and Rolly Canete and calls on the Philippines authorities to ensure those responsible for the murders are brought to justice,” said Warren.

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

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries