Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about the level of violence to which journalists continue to be exposed in the Philippines. The latest incident is the attempted murder of radio presenter Jerome Tabanganay, who was shot twice outside his radio station in the northern province of Kalinga on 14 May, four days after the country went to the polls.
“The toll from physical attacks on the press continues to mount in the final weeks of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s administration,” Reporters Without Borders said, calling for a thorough investigation into Tabanganay shooting. “A total of 137 journalists have been killed since she took office nine years ago. This shows that reforms aimed at promoting media freedom and protecting journalists are essential in the Philippines.”
The press freedom organisation added: “We hope that the incoming government will do what is necessary to end the culture of impunity. We also appeal to President-elect Benigno Aquino to reestablish a positive climate for the media as soon as he takes office on 1 July.”
The host of a news programme on state-owned Radyo ng Bayan, Tabanganay was approached by a gunman as he arrived outside the station on the morning of 14 May. He immediately started to run but the gunman managed to shoot him in the legs as he fled.
The attack came on the same day that Esmael Mangudadatu was declared the winner of the gubernatorial election in Maguinadao, a province at the other end of the Philippines. Mangudadatu’s wife and two sisters were killed in massacre on 23 November 2009 in which 32 journalists lost their lives.
The massacre made the Philippines the world’s deadliest country for the media in 2009.
Reporters Without Borders also voices its strong support for the call by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines to the outgoing government to bring forward a parliamentary vote on legislation that will decriminalise press offences.