Unesco condemns RP journalists’ killings

Published by rudy Date posted on July 3, 2009

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom has deplored the recent killing of a radio commentator in the Philippines, the fourth murder of a journalist in the country this year.

Crispin Perez, who hosted a morning program on Radio dwDO in the central Philippine province of Western Mindoro, died on June 9 near his home in San Jose, after being stabbed by an unknown attacker who later fled on a motorcycle. Perez also worked as a lawyer and was a former governor of Western Mindoro.

Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), condemned the killing and called for an immediate investigation.

In a statement issued on July 1, Matsuura said he was “deeply concerned” that so many Filipino journalists had paid with their lives for “exercising the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.”

Matsuura stressed that “it was essential for democracy that citizens have the right to be informed in an independent way on what is going on in their country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Perez is the fourth journalist in the Philippines to be killed this year alone.

Only last month Unesco also denounced the murder of a newspaper reporter near Manila and the incident involving two other journalists who were wounded in separate incidents but survived the attacks.

In the last few years, the Philippines has been ranked as one of the deadliest nations for journalists.

CPJ research shows an impunity rate of over 90 percent in murders of Filipino media practitioners.

Apart from journalists, hundreds of activists, trade unionists, and religious leaders in the Philippines have been killed or abducted since 2001, but the Arroyo government continues to deny any involvement of the country’s military in the killings, despite evidence presented by the UN and other international human rights watchdogs.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders said it is outraged at the fatal shooting of radio presenter Jonathan Petalvero in a restaurant in Bayugan, in the southern province of Agusan del Sur. Petalvero hosted a program that supported a local politician.

“It is too soon to say whether this murder was linked to the victim’s work as a journalist, but the authorities must quickly assign enough personnel to the case to be able to identify the killer and the instigators,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Three other radio hosts have been killed in the Philippines since the start of the year. That is more than in Iraq in the same period.”

Journalistic sources said Petalvero was shot in the head on 27 June, although police statements gave the day of his murder as 25 June. Aged 43, he hosted the program “Balita at Komentaryo” on radio DXFM “Frenster Radio.” –Michaela P. del Callar, Daily Tribune

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