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Philippines June 1, 2005
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Office of the President
Republic of the Philippines
Fax: (011.63.2) 735-6152
Yet again, we write to protest the unending carnage afflicting journalists in the Philippines .
Since we last wrote just two months ago, three more journalists have been killed and another narrowly escaped assassination. By reliable accounts, no fewer than 18 journalists have been killed in your country since 2000, and the number murdered without any retribution since the restoration of independence in 1986 is now 65. The Committee to Protect Journalists ranks it as the most murderous country in the world for people practicing journalism.
The Overseas Press Club of America (OPC), an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for 65 years, is well aware of Your Excellency’s frequent promises to protect journalists and honor freedom of the media. We have applauded your creation of a task force to investigate the killings of journalists. The good news seems to be that this effort is bearing fruit: After a gunman killed columnist, Marlene Esperat, with a single shot to the head in her home on March 24, four suspects were arrested and charged with murder. They have pleaded not guilty. If they are convicted, they will be the first to suffer any punishment in any of the 65 murders of journalists since 1986.
However, there have been two murders since Esperat’s: on May 4, radio broadcaster, Klein Cantoneros, was gunned down in Dipilog City on the southern island of Mindanao; and on May 10, Philip Agustin , editor and publisher of the local weekly, Starline Times Recorder , was killed by a single shot to the back of the head late last night in the village of Paltic. And early in April, radio broadcaster, Alberto Martinez, escaped death when a gunman shot him in the back as he was making his way home in Osais on Mindanao .
We urge you to keep up the pressure to find and punish those responsible for this crime wave against journalists.
Thank you for your attention. We would appreciate a reply.
Norman A. Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee
Ignacio R. Bunye
Office of the Press Secretary
Arlegui Guest House
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
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines
to the United Nations
556 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10036
Fax: (212) 840-8602
Francis J. Ricciardone
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Fax: (011.63.2) 522-4361
The Manila Times
Cebu Daily News