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Journalist killed

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

47th journalist killed under Arroyo administration in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has slammed the Arroyo administration for their failure to protect journalists, after the 47th journalist was killed under the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and the 11th just this year, surpassing last year's total.

According to IFJ affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Ponciano Grande, a broadcaster and former columnist from Nueva Ecija, was shot and killed by two assailants on December 7.

"Despite public claims by the government that those who harm journalists will be punished, and Arroyo's lip service to investigations by the Melo Commission into unsolved journalists' deaths, it is clear by this latest murder that journalists' safety is far from a priority for the Arroyo government," said the president of the IFJ, Christopher Warren.

"More journalists have been killed in the Philippines since Arroyo came to power in 2001 than under the 14-year Marcos dictatorship. When will the government say 'enough is enough' and refuse to let the massacre of journalists continue?" he said.

Grande was reportedly shot five times with a .45 calibre pistol just metres from his wife, Annie Liwag-Grande, while visiting his farm in Barangay, Sta. Arcadia, Cabantuan City.

Local reports said the assassins, appearing to be in their teens, chased Liwag-Grande but did not harm her.

The NUJP reported that the couple had jointly hosted a program on radio station DWJJ in Nueva Ecija, and Grande had previously written for the local weeklies The Recorder and the Nueva Ecija Times.

"Sadly, the murder of Grande has meant the Philippines has lost another voice for its people," the IFJ president said.

"The IFJ calls on Arroyo to act immediately to find those responsible for this terrible murder and show the world that the Philippines will stand up for freedom of expression and will not allow any more vital voices to be silenced," he said.

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.

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