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Philippines July 21, 2005
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Office of the President
J. P. Laurel, Sr. Street
Republic of the Philippines
Fax: (011.63.2) 735-6152
The recent assassination of radio commentator, Rolando “Dodong” Morales , and the attempts to kill two other journalists are further evidence that a culture of violence against media people still flourishes in the Philippines .
According to police reports, Morales was murdered while driving home on Mindanao by eight assailants on four motorcycles. The journalist was shot at least 15 times, and police cited his anti-drug commentaries as a possible motive for the cowardly attack.
In another incident, this one in Valenzuela City , two assailants on motorcycles were foiled when they tried to shoot Pablo Hernandez , columnist for the Bulgar tabloid. Hernandez, who is authorized to carry a gun for self-protection and has escaped assassination three times, exchanged shots with the attackers who fled the scene. Again, the motive for the attack may have been the journalist’s work. The other attempt occurred in Pangasinan province, and it was only timing that saved the life of Alan Sison , operations manager of dz-RH Dagupan radio. As he left a hotel and headed for his car, Sison heard a gunshot, and then noticed a bullet hole in the car’s driver’s window. It is suspected that the gunman — who is apparently an unnamed local politician, according to police — thought Sison was already inside the car. Once again, the motive for the attempt apparently had some connection to Sison’s hard-hitting commentaries, which have included the series on killings of journalists in the Philippines .
Such attacks on journalists — and incidents such as the recent barring of Bombo Radyo reporters from conducting interviews and attending official press functions in Iloilo province — have become all too common in the Philippines , and must be stopped. Those who use violence to stop journalists must be brought to justice, and the blacklisting of reporters by government officials who object to criticism of their actions must also cease.
As a non-partisan organization dedicated to support of press freedom throughout the world, we urge you to do all in your power to enable journalists to perform their duties without harassment and without having to fear for their lives. We would also hope that the murder of Mr. Morales, and the attempted assassinations of the other journalists, will be given the intensive government investigation they deserve.
Freedom of the Press Committee
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
Joseph A. Mussomeli
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Fax (011.63.2) 522-4361