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Philippines March 21, 2005
H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Office of the President
Republic of the Philippines
Fax: (011.63.2) 735-6152
We write again, more in sorrow than in hope that anything will be done, to protest the continuing carnage afflicting journalists in the Philippines .
Since the beginning of this year, Arnulfo Villanueva , a columnist on the newspaper, Asian Star Express Balita, has been shot dead, and according to Reporters Without Borders, six more, including radio presenter, Jess Abarondo , working for DWDD radio, and columnist, Pablo Hernandez of the tabloid Bulgar, have been brutally attacked or have received death threats. In addition , Edgar Amoro , a witness
to the murder of journalist, Edgar Damalerio, was murdered on February 2 in what seems a transparent attempt to suppress evidence against Damalerio’s suspected killer, police officer Guillermo Wapile.
Death threats have been made against Amoro’s family, and Edgar Ongue, the last surviving witness to the Damalerio killing, escaped a murder attempt on February 9.
By reliable accounts, no fewer than twelve journalists were killed in your country last year alone, and the number murdered without any retribution since 1986 is now 62. In a word, this is an intolerable record.
As we have repeatedly written, the Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for 65 years, honors Your Excellency’s frequent promises to protect journalists and honor freedom of the media. But without any tangible progress in investigating any of these atrocities, it is difficult to see any meaning in these words.
As we wrote you less than two months ago, we applaud your creation of a task force to investigate the killings of journalists. We urge you to support this program strongly and to make certain that the perpetrators are brought to justice. When you address your nation, we hope you will make it clear that crimes against journalists are especially heinous and have no place in a modern democracy.
Thank you for your attention. We would appreciate a reply.
Norman A. Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee
cc: 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 Editor, The Manila Times
The Editor, Cebu Daily News