Stop the Killings!

21 November 2004
Source: Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)

The following statement was issued at the 11th General Meeting of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) in Baku, Azerbaijan, 13-18 June 2004: We condemn in the strongest possible terms the continuing physical attacks on crusading journalists in the Philippines, where 45 have been killed and dozens more hurt since the restoration of democracy in 1986. Most of these journalists have been killed because of their reports on corruption. Seven journalists were murdered in 2003 and two in 2004.

The latest incident took place on 17 June 2004 when radio broadcaster Ely Binoya, known for his stinging attacks on politicians, was shot dead by a motorcycle-riding assailant in South Cotabato province in southern Mindanao. On 11 February 2004, another radio commentator, Ruel Endrinal, was killed by unknown gunmen in Legazpi City in the central Philippines.

We call on the Philippine government to exercise its political will by bringing the perpetrators to justice and declaring an end to the culture of impunity which has allowed these attacks to continue.

Not one of the killers of these journalists is in police custody and being tried in court. The case of Edgar Damalerio, a murdered newspaper editor and radio commentator in the southern Philippines, could have been a landmark case, having had witnesses come forward to identify the killer so soon after the murder. The principal suspect, a former policeman, however, was allowed to escape by the police before a warrant for the arrest could be issued. He remains at large.

Damalerio, managing editor of the Zamboanga Scribe, a radio commentator of DXKP-Pagadian, and host of the cable TV program “Enkwentro” (Encounter), was killed on 13 May 2002 near the Pagadian City hall and police headquarters.

We urge journalists across the Philippines to be vigilant and to close ranks to protect themselves against such attacks by arming themselves with the truth and a high level of professionalism in carrying out their work.

Across Southeast Asia, where 10 journalists were killed in 2003, we also express grave concern over the shrinking space given to journalists and the growing trend of intimidation, arrests and physical attacks against them.

We call on all media professionals, rights advocates and other groups working for press freedom to put pressure on the governments in the region and to protect journalists from harassment, physical violence and other unnecessary restrictions in the exercise of their profession.

We call on governments in Southeast Asia to end all forms of repression of journalistic freedom.

Signed,

Southeast Asian Press Alliance
World Press Freedom Committee
Centre for Independent Journalism, Malaysia
Fundaci?n para la libertad de prensa
Media Institute for Southern Africa
Committee to Protect Journalists
International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech “Adil Soz”
Thai Journalists Association
Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations
World Association for Community Radio Broadcasters
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Freedom of Expression Institute
Internews Uzbekistan
Belarus Association of Journalists
Norwegian PEN
Freedom House
Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala
Cartoonists Rights International
Central Asia and Southern Caucasus Free Expression Network
Index on Censorship
Journaliste en danger
International Federation of Journalists
Independent Journalism Center – Moldova
Pakistan Press Foundation
Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies
AMARC Asia Pacific
Media Rights Agenda
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