Magazine article The Quill

It's Time to Help Filipino Journalists

Magazine article The Quill

It's Time to Help Filipino Journalists

Article excerpt

IT IS TIME FOR US TO DO SOMETHING. Now. The situation for journalists in the Philippines continues to worsen each day and each year. We have to help those in the media before more of them are hurt, arrested, shot, imprisoned or killed.

Five years ago, my first Quill column was about a broadcaster who was gunned down in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. "Philippines Loses Another Broadcast Journalist" (August 2005) involved Rolando "Dodong" Morales, who hosted a weekly program. Even though he had received numerous death threats. Morales continued to discuss issues such as illegal drug trafficking and allegations that local officials took part in frequent executions.

Soon after his program ended July 3, 2005, "Morales and a companion hopped aboard his motorcycle. They drove away from the station, traveling along the busy national highway near the town of Polomolok, located on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

"Suddenly, the pair was ambushed by eight persons riding four motorcycles and carrying M-IB rifles. The assailants opened fire. When Morales stopped and fell to the ground, the eight suspects got off their bikes and proceeded to beat him. Then they shot him again. The autopsy revealed that Morales had been shot at least 15 times."

To this day, no one has ever been questioned, let alone charged.

That same year, six other journalists were murdered in the Philippines, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that 33 journalists were slain throughout the country in 2009.

The fact that so many people in the media were killed in 2009 shows the immediacy of the situation. We can no longer sit back and accept what is going on in the Philippines. The need is urgent - for them and us.

Here are some recent reports from RSF and CPJ that offer four more reasons to get involved:

1 "'Nothing seems able to stop the violence against journalists,' Reporters Without Borders said today (Jan. 8, 2010) after learning that radio commentator Eugene Paet was wounded in a shooting attack yesterday in a the northern province of llocos Sur."

2"In the deadliest event for the press ever recorded by CPJ, 29 journalists and two media support workers were ambushed and brutally slain on November 23 (2009) as they traveled in Maguindanao province with a convoy of people who intended to file gubernatorial candidacy papers for a local politician. In all, 57 people were killed in a shocking display of barbarism apparently motivated by political clan rivalries.

3 "Reporters Without Borders is concerned for the safety of llocos Times columnist Steve Barriero following a 31 July (2009) grenade explosion outside his home near Laoag City in llocos Norte province, 400 km north of Manila, in which no one was hurt. …

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