TO: Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
President, Republic of the Philippines
Via facsimile: 63-2-735-6152
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the recent murder of Bonifacio Gregorio, a reporter and columnist for the weekly Dyaryo Banat, in La Paz, Tarlac Province.
On the evening of July 8, an unidentified gunman approached Gregorio while he was talking to a colleague on a cell phone in front of his house and shot him in the head three times at close range. According to news reports, the gunman was likely a professional killer who fled the scene on foot. Gregorio was rushed to La Paz District Hospital, before being transferred to Ramos General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Local journalists believe that Gregorio, 55, may have been killed for his journalistic work. Before joining the newspaper, Gregorio served for nine years as chief of Caramutan, a barangay, or village, in La Paz. In his three years as a columnist for Dyaryo Banat, Gregorio wrote many critical articles about officials in La Paz, including Mayor Dionisio Manuel. Shortly before Gregorio’s death, the journalist had accused Manuel of building a cemetery without following local regulations. In interviews with local newspapers, Manuel has denied having anything to do with Gregorio’s death.
While police have formed a special task force to solve Gregorio’s murder, and Tarlac governor Jose Yap Sr. has publicly urged police to find his killer and bring him to justice, no arrests have been made. According to CPJ research, Gregorio is the second journalist to be killed for his work in the Philippines in 2003. Apolinario Pobeda, a radio broadcaster, was gunned down on May 17.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ is gravely concerned that murderers who target journalists continue to be treated with impunity in the Philippines. We respectfully urge Your Excellency to ensure that law enforcement officials conduct an impartial and thorough investigation into the murder of Bonifacio Gregorio and swiftly bring his killers to justice. We further ask that the results of the investigation be made public.
We also urge you to ensure that other attacks on journalists are fully investigated and prosecuted.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.
Ann K. Cooper
30 July 2003
Source: Committee to Protect Journalists