Thursday, July 20, 2006

Int'l media groups condemn journalist murder (again)

Reporters Without Borders and the International Federation of Journalists are among the international groups that condemned the killing of Armando Pace.

Mindanao radio presenter becomes ninth Philippine journalist to be murdered this year -- Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the murder of Armando Pace, the presenter of a programme on local radio station DXDS on the southern island of Mindanao, who was gunned down yesterday by two men on a motorcycle. He is ninth journalist to be murdered in the Philippines this year.

"The police should not rule out the possibility that Pace's murder was linked to his work as a journalist," the organisation said. "A very thorough investigation is needed to establish who was responsible and what their motives were. If it turns out he was killed on account of what he said on the air, the authorities will be indirectly to blame because of the climate of impunity they have allowed to take hold in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao."

Pace was shot in the head and chest as he was returning home. He died of his injuries within minutes of being rushed to hospital. The gunmen have not been identified.

He was not employee of DXDS. He rented the airtime for his programme, called Ukadyang. He used to have a reputation for being very critical of certain local politicians and speaking out about drug trafficking. But he had become less acerbic in his comments since starting the radio programme, and focused above all on development issues. The editor of DXDS said Pace had not received any threats but was often the target of lawsuits.

He is the 23rd journalist to be killed since Gloria Arroyo became president in January 2001. The level of impunity is such that only one of these 23 murders had resulted in a conviction. The Philippines were ranked this year and last year as "the world's second most dangerous country for journalists, after Iraq."

Murdered broadcaster adds to Philippines' "atrocious record for journalist safety" -- International Federation of Journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed by the overwhelming number of journalists being murdered in the Philippines after a broadcaster was shot dead on July 18 by unknown assailants in the southern city of Digos.

Armando "Racman" Pace, 51, of Radyo Ukay Digos was reportedly shot on his way home by two motorcycle-riding assassins.

"This brings the Philippines' atrocious record for journalist safety to a new low, less than a month after the shocking murder of journalist husband and wife team George and Macel Alave Vigo," IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

According to IFJ affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) this latest murder brings the total to 82 journalists murdered since the Philippines regained democracy in 1986, and to eight journalists murdered just this year.

"The frightening aspect of these statistics is that despite being a democracy, the situation for press freedom and the safety of journalists in the Philippines seems to be deteriorating steadily, with no indication that anything is being done to protect the lives of media workers," Warren said.

The police have reportedly formed a task force, "Pace", to locate the suspects and determine the motive for the killing.

"The IFJ calls for a full investigation into whether Pace's murder was linked to his work as a journalist, and demands the perpetrators of this crime to be brought to justice quickly and satisfactorily," Warren said.

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