Murders of Journalists denounced by Media Groups and Church Leaders
By Edwin C. Mercurio
The New York-based media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged Philippine authorities to stop the killings of journalists and bring the killers to justice after two journalists were killed in less than 24 hours of each other.
On Tuesday, gunmen shot and killed broadcaster Joselito Agustin, 37, in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. On Monday night, an assassin killed radio commentator Desidario “Jessie” Camangyan, 52, in Mabini town, Davao Oriental province.
In a letter to Pesident-elect Benigno Aquino the CPJ asked that the Philippine government address the country’s high rate of journalist murders. Last year alone, more than 34 journalists were murdered in one day in Maguindanao.
CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, Bob Dietz said “The authorities must ensure that no witnesses are intimidated from coming forward or testifying, as has been the case in previous such murders in the Philippines. “
The killings of Agustin and Camagyan bring a total of 140 journalists killed since 1986. There were 102 journalists murdered since former President Gloria-Macapagal-Arroyo rose to power in 2001.
Philippine Catholic bishop Sergio L. Utleg of Laoag said that the recent killing of two journalists is a threat to the country's democracy,
“If we don’t stop this [killing] … we will lose the essence of our democracy,” said Bishop Utleg of Laoag after the murder of the two broadcasters. The targetted killings were within less than 24 hours of each other, ucanews.com reports.
Bishop Utleg called on journalists not to be afraid to speak the truth even in the face of such threats.
The prelate said Agustin was a “hero” for doing his job fearlessly, Bishop Utleg appealed for justice to be meted out.
Benedictine Sister Stella Matutina said Camangyan’s murder has sent a “chilling effect” to people in Davao Oriental. Camangyan was a vocal critic of logging and mining operations in the area, an advocacy Sister Matutina initiated.
“We denounce this killing,” she said, adding that other members of her pro-environment group, Panalipdan (Defend), have also received death threats.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also “mourned” the killing of Camangyan.
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said “There is no excuse for local authorities to delay in bringing the perpetrator and whoever may have ordered the killing to justice." ( sources - ucanews, bulatlat.com)