MEDIA GROUPS URGE END TO IMPUNITY
Following a 7 January round table forum held by the groups in Manila, a spokesperson for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said a task force would be struck to examine why an investigation into Damalerio's murder has been delayed.
Dubbed a "hero of Philippine journalism" by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Damalerio was an award-winning radio commentator and newspaper editor who frequently criticised politicians and corrupt leaders, CPJ says.
His murder on 13 May 2002 in the city of Pagadian is symptomatic of a larger problem in the Philippines. Despite "substantial evidence" implicating a local policeman in the crime, legal manoeuvers have repeatedly delayed the case and local witnesses have been harassed, notes CPJ.
Since the country's return to democratic rule in 1986, 39 journalists have been killed, the group's figures show. "No one has been convicted in any of the slayings, most of which occurred in provincial areas."
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CFMR) says journalists in the Philippines' rural areas face greater dangers than those working in cities. Away from national media attention, "those who wish to silence critical voices feel that no great pressure will be mounted to pursue those responsible for [killing] a journalist," the group says.
CFMR statistics show 36 journalists killed since 1986.
The situation has prompted five Philipppine media organisations to announce the establishment of a new fund to support provincial journalists. The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists will aid victims of physical assaults and help protect journalists, CPJ says.
Visit these links:
- CFMR Report on Journalists' Deaths:
- CPJ Report on Edgar Damalerio:
- PCIJ Report on Damalerio:
- Reporters sans frontières: