IFJ Outraged after Two Journalists Murdered in Five Days in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists worldwide, has today expressed its outrage over the murders of two broadcast journalists in the past five days. The IFJ has called for the establishment of an independent commission to inquire into the failure of the Philippine Government to successfully prosecute any suspects involved in the murder of journalists.

Arnel Manalo, provincial correspondent of the Manila tabloid Bulgar and radio station DZBB, was murdered by unidentified killers near Bauan on Thursday, 5 August 2004.Manalo's death follows the murder of Roger Mariano, broadcast journalist with DZJC-Aksyon Radio five days earlier.

According to our information, on 31 July an unidentified attacker shot Mariano after he left his office. He was found on the national road in Barangay Village 23, Santa Cecilia, in San Nicholas town, thrown from his motorcycle with ten bullets in his head.

Possible motives put forward by the police included his harsh commentary on local police's handling of the Government's anti-jueteng campaign; a 1999 murder case in which Mariano was a prime suspect and later cleared; and his planned exposure of the alleged irregularities of the Ilocos Norte Cooperative. Local police have set up a taskforce to investigate the murder.

"While we welcome the institution of a taskforce investigation of the Mariano case, we are deeply concerned that this is an endemic problem in the Philippines that needs an independent inquiry," said IFJ President Christopher Warren today.

"With four journalists killed this year alone, it is decisive action that is required to stop the journalists death toll rising in the Philippines," says IFJ President, Christopher Warren. "The culture in the Philippines that allows journalists to be targeted in this way needs to be defeated," he said.

"It is an untenable situation that journalists continue to be targeted by those who disagree with their reporting," said the IFJ.

In a letter to the Government of the Philippines, the IFJ has called on the Government of the Philippines to set up an independent inquiry into the rising death toll of Philippine journalists and the lack of prosecutions.

"Action is needed to foster a climate of healthy freedom of expression in the Philippines. As long as journalists are forced to work in a climate of fear, press freedom will not flourish in the Philippines," said Warren.

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

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