Philippines: Leading tabloid’s office targeted in arson attack

The offices of Abante Tonite, a leading Philippines tabloid were stormed by four men and set alight in an arson attack on Monday, September 9 in Parañaque City, Metro Manila. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has backed its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in condemning the attack, and demands the authorities launch an investigation and prosecute those responsible.

Police at the scene following the arson attack. Credit: Presidential Taskforce on Media Safety

According to Fernando Jadulco, managing editor of Abante Tonite, four masked gunmen have barged into the printing plant at around 2 am as the team had finished printing the day’s edition. The arsonists poured gasoline on the presses and printing supplies and set those alight. There was no severe damage to the offices or technology, and the tabloid continued to operate as normal. The immediate response of the Parañaque fire station to stop the fire has prevented more serious damage to the printing house. No one was injured in the attack, in the first attack on the outlet in more than three decades.

Jadulco said the newsroom has condemned the attack and cannot think of any reason for the attack. All staff of Abante Tonite remained unshaken. “The management and staff of Abante and Tonite condemn this dastardly attack, the first violent act against our group and its facilities since 1987. We will not be cowed by this attempt to strike fear into our reporters, editors and staff. Our commitment to hard-hitting journalism remains unshaken,” he said.

NUJP said the perpetrators believe they won’t be caught and prosecuted. Many crimes and human rights abuses, including assault against media and journalists in the Philippines, remain unsolved. NUJP has challenged the law enforcement agencies to end the culture of impunity by getting the perpetrators of this attack and prosecuting them.

“We stand in support of our colleagues in the Abante News Group even as we are confident that this incident will not cow them and the community of independent Filipino journalists, who remain united in defending our rights and liberties and resisting all attempts to silence us,” NUJP added.

The IFJ said: “We condemn the attack against Albante Tonite. This latest assault has shown the deterioration of press freedom in the country. We urge the authorities to ensure and improve the safety of journalists and the media workers while they are doing their jobs to produce and publish stories. It can start by having a thorough investigation and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on 
+61 2 9333 0918

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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