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Philippines October 25, 2006
Republic of the Philippines
Fax: (011.63.2) 735-6152
We were dismayed to hear that four members of the Asian Star Journal and Asia Star Balita , including the editor and publisher, were arrested earlier this month for reporting on alleged government corruption.
Erineo Maliksi, governor of Cavite province, charged the four journalists with criminal defamation and had them arrested in Barangay Santa Fe on October 2 nd based on their articles exposing corruption in a government rice purchase. The staffers include Ed Lara Cuvinar, the editor, Rudy Apolo, the publisher, and his two children Reynaldo Apolo and Michelle Apolo. Their release is still pending.
These arrests fly in the face of your country’s long history of press freedom, and highlight a disturbing trend of criminal defamation reports filed against journalists in the Philippines . Your own husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, has filed 43 complaints over the past five years, according to the National Union of the Journalists of the Philippines. Other government officials have followed his lead and used criminal-libel law tool to crack down on journalists who dare to point out corruption in local government.
Your Excellency, we urge you to do everything in your power to persuade Governor Maliksi to rethink his charge of criminal defamation and release the journalists associated with Asian Star Journal and Asia Star Balita . It would be a visible statement of your concern for the right of free expression, and it would go a long way toward the restoration of the Philippines sadly deteriorated reputation for a vigorous free press.
Thank you for your attention.
Freedom of the Press Committee
Philippine Ambassador 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
Kristie A. Kenney
U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Fax: (011.63.2) 522-4361