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Philippines January 18, 2006
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Fax: (011.63.2) 735-6152
With great sadness, the Overseas Press Club of America finds it necessary to write to you again regarding murders and persecution of working journalists in the Philippines.
Our organization, whose 600 members are professional journalists, has written to you previously on this subject, yet the killings seem to go on. In protesting these conditions, we join hands with other journalism organizations including: The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility ( Manila ), and the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines. The specific events we are protesting are these:
• The murder in early December in Cabuyao, Laguna Province , of Robert Ramos, a reporter for the weekly tabloid, Katapat.
• The murder a few days later of Ricard “Ding” Uy, in Sorsogon City. Mr. Uy was known for his criticisms of the army in his radio broadcasts for DZRS-AM. He was also president of the Media Reporters Association.
• The murder, also in December, of radio reporter, George Benaojan, apparently by professional killers in Talisay City, Cebu Island. Mr Benaojan hosted a weekly program on local Bantay Radio in which he criticized local officials, including customs agents, for alleged corruption.
• We are also disturbed by reports that the terrorist group, Abu Sayyaz (ASG), has sent threatening letters to prominent personalities in Zamboanga City — including several members of the local media.
To be sure, our organization derived some comfort from the imposition of a life sentence on Guillermo Wapile for killing radio journalist, Edgar Damalerio, in 2002; also from the Supreme Court decision to move the murder trial of those accused in the murder of columnist, Marlene Esperat-Garcia, from Tacurong, Mindanao, to another jurisdiction where the suspects are less influential.
Nonetheless, the continuing killings and attacks on working journalists in the Philippines are very disturbing to members of our profession. As you no doubt know, the Philippines is considered the most murderous country in the world for jounalists to work. We applaud your creation of a special task force to investigate the killings of journalists. Still, we urge your government to make stronger efforts to bring the killers to justice and end this nightmare for members of our profession.
Freedom of the Press Committee
Ignacio R. Bunye
Office of the Press Secretary
Arlegui Guest House
Malacanang Palace Compound
Republic of the Philippines
Albert del Rosario
Ambassador of the Philippines to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines
1600 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20036
Fax: (202) 467-9417
Ambassador Lauro L. Baja, Jr.
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines
to the United Nations
556 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10036
Fax: (212) 840-8602
Deputy Chief of Mission
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Fax: (011.63.2) 522-4361
Quatorce Cebu Daily News