Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Move over, Iraq: Here comes the Philippines!

It looks like more threats to and attacks against the media are coming. At the rate we're going, we're going to topple Iraq as the world's most dangerous place for journalists.

One journalist badly injured, another threatened as two-week-old police offensive yields scant results
Source: Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders has condemned the ongoing violence against journalists in the Philippines as newspaper reporter Roger Panizal was seriously injured in a shooting attack in Valenzuela (near Manila) and Hazel Gup-ay, a local public radio station presenter in the northern city of Tabuk, continued to receive death threats.

"President Gloria Arroyo's announcement of an offensive by police and judicial authorities raised hopes of a decline in attacks on journalists and human rights activists, but this has not happened," the press freedom organisation said.

"Two weeks have gone by since the president's announcement, but only one case of violence against a journalist seems to have been solved and it was not linked to the victim's work," Reporters Without Borders continued. "It is high time the police and judicial authorities worked together to solve crimes and stop the violence."

The police announced on 4 August 2006 that they had arrested four suspects, including two corrupt police officers, for the murder of cameraman Ralph Runez of the public TV station RPN, who was shot while being robbed in Manila on 28 July.

"It is essential that the police establish the motives for the attempted murder of Panizal on 14 August," Reporters Without Borders added. "The mounting violence in Valenzuela area should prompt the police to step up its capacity to combat the criminal gangs there that are threatening journalists. In the case of Gup-ay, the authorities should give her protection and identify the source of the threats against her."

A reporter for the tabloid newspaper "Tiktik", Panizal was on his way to work in Valenzuela when a gunman stopped his taxi and made him get out. After being joined by two accomplices, the gunman shot Panizal three times. According to the http://www.GMANews.tv website, he was hit in the throat and hand. Interviewed by colleagues at his bedside in the hospital, he managed to identify "George Demonyo" (George the Devil) as the person responsible.

Two other journalists, Albert Orsolino and Prudencio Melendres, have been killed this year in the Valenzuela region. The motives for their murders are not thought to have been linked to their work.

Meanwhile Gup-ay, 36, the host of the daily programme "Kabarangay" (Town Mates) on public radio station Radyo ng Bayan dzRK in Tabuk (in the northern province of Kalinga), has been receiving SMS death threats on her mobile phone since 1 August.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Gup-ay has been afraid for her life ever since she reported an ambush against left-wing activist Constancio Claver on the air. Sent from the phone number 09104394913, the messages accuse her of bias in her coverage of this incident and, in general, of being too critical of the local authorities. An SMS message sent on 6 August from 09207028180 said: "I hope you are going to die soon."


little light said...

and we thought journalists in metro manila were safe, or safer, at least. when this saga started the killings occured only in the peripheries of the country, but now they're in valenzuela. am i right to conclude that the perpetrators, whoever they are, are getting bolder?

arci said...

accdg to a filipino al-jazeera reporter (i forgot her name, it's something like 'margaux ortiga/s'), the situation of journalists in the phils & in iraq are different. in the phils, journalists were killed by the people they've pissed off, while in iraq, anybody could just shoot somebody with a press id w/o reason.

arci said...

btw, that filipino reporter formerly worked for gma7 and then cnn. she graduated from admu. =)

she's now here in the country for the philippine bureau of al-jazeera.

bryant said...

@ little light

culture of impunity continues to reign, its dark might shining more and more every day.

bryant said...

@ arci

i think you're referring to margaux ortigas, the former GMA-7 reporter who i think is now al-jazeera's reporter here in manila.

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