Reporters Without Borders called today on the Philippines government to move quickly to protect journalists from increasing death threats against those reporting on corruption and environmental abuses, a month after the murder of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) dwAR commentator Gerardo Ortega.
It urged President Benigno Aquino III to keep his promise to fight crimes against the media and punish those responsible.
Since the death on 24 January of Ortega, who had exposed corruption and also environmental damage by mining companies on the island of Palawan, four suspected gunmen have reportedly been arrested and police have learned that their bosses were powerful figures, including former Palawan governor Joel Reyes, who has ties with the mining firms.
Two other Palawan journalists, who prefer to remain anonymous for security reasons, say they have been personally threatened by those presumed to have killed Ortega.
Three more journalists have said in a letter to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) they have received regular death threats since last month. The three — George Hubierna, a reporter with the People’s Journal and People’s Tonight based in Manila, Nelson Bolos, a journalist-researcher with the same papers, and Paul Gonzales, editor of Tarlac Headline News – have reported on corruption in the building of an expressway in Tarlac, about 100 km from Manila, and the threats referred to this.
Four journalists were murdered last year in the Philippines, where many powerful people have local fiefdoms that are above the law, and 30 were killed in a massacre there in November 2009.