Philippines : Guns definitely not the answer, says IFJ

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide has today slammed the ‘more guns’ response of the Philippines National Police to the increased attacks against journalists in the Philippines, which has seen six journalists attacked in the past eight days, with two journalists dead.

The Philippines National Police announced on Friday 6 August that journalists would be allowed to carry firearms in response to the increased attacks against journalists in the Philippines.

“This is completely the wrong approach: more guns are simply not the answer to the crisis facing journalists in the Philippines,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren today.

“Journalists are independent observers and should not be encouraged to be active combatants in the increasingly dangerous domestic environment in the Philippines,” said Warren.

“This move is entirely counter-productive: it will only result in more journalists being hurt,” said the IFJ in a letter to the President of the Philippines.

According to our information, on 8 August Jonathan “Jun” Abayon was shot in the head after an argument with the suspected attacker inside the car of a mutual friend in General Santos City in the Southern Philippines. Abayon, 27, is a reporter at RGMA Superadyo and remains in a critical condition. It is too early in the investigation to ascertain if the attack is connected to his journalistic work.

Last week unidentified attackers opened fire against three broadcasters from Bantay Radyo Cebu, in Cebu City. George Benaojan, Kelvin Carillo and Gildoer Fuentes all survived the ambush. There remain questions around the motive for the attack, if it was in fact connected to their journalistic work.

In a letter to the Government of the Philippines, the IFJ offered cautious support for the spirit behind the moves to stop the killing spree against journalists but argued the ‘more guns’ strategy promotes more violence and an increased state of lawlessness in that country.

“The actions taken by the Government of the Philippines are counter-productive and encourage those with gripes against journalists to resort to violence,“ said Warren.

“It is the job of the police to enforce the law and protect its citizens: for the police to effectively abandon their responsibility to protect journalists is an abysymal state of affairs,” said the IFJ.

The IFJ in its letter to the Government of the Philippines renewed its call for the establishment of an independent commission into the rising death toll of journalists in the Philippines and to determine why not one case has resulted in a successful prosecution.

For further information please contact Christopher Warren +61 411 757 668

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