DAVAO CITY, Philippines—With the recent reported deaths of media personalities in the country, an international human rights group on Saturday demanded a swift action from the Duterte administration to deliver justice and put a stop on what they described as “senseless killings.”
Carlos Conde, researcher for Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, said the deaths of two broadcast journalists and the attack on a newspaper columnist “highlight the need for the Duterte administration to deliver on promises to apprehend those responsible for the killings of journalists.”
Conde, in particular, called for an immediate investigation on the killings of Rudy Alicaway and Leo Diaz. Alicaway, 46, was a radio anchor of Radyo ng Bayan Molave in Zamboanga del Sur province. He was killed by two motorcycle-riding gunmen on Sunday, Aug. 6, according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
On August 7, Leo Diaz, a columnist of Sapol Newsapaper was killed by a lone motorcycle gunman at President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat province.
“Police say they don’t yet know the motive for the killing of Alicaway, who was also a local councilman,” Conde said, adding that Diaz “had told his colleagues earlier in the day that he was going to file a report on illegal drugs, but it is unclear whether his reporting was the motive for his killing.”
Apart from Alicaway and Diaz, on August 10, Crisenciano Ibon, 65, another tabloid columnist of Police Files Tonight was shot by a gun man. Ibon survived the attack and police speculate the attack may have been in retaliation for his column criticizing illegal gambling, according to Conde.
He said the deaths of Alicaway and Diaz brought to four the number of journalists killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016. Journalist Larry Que was killed on December 19 and Joaquin Briones on March 13.
HRW urged the Duterte administration’s task force on media killings to investigate the reported murders despite the “little evidence that the task force has actively pursued on attacks against journalists.”
“In Que’s case, his widow filed a criminal complaint against the provincial governor, a policeman and three others for her husband’s death,” it said.
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines “their deaths, if work-related, bring to a total of 177 the number of Filipino media workers killed since 1986.
“The killings happened in the two provinces of Mindanao even as the whole region is under Martial Law. This again highlights the culture of impunity in the attacks against and killings of Filipino journalists that have remained unabated despite an international outcry,” the NUJP added.
Conde said that previous administrations launched similar task forces on media killings, but all failed to end impunity for those deaths.
“Despite its assurances that journalists are ‘safer’ now, Duterte’s task force will suffer the same fate so long as the administration actively endorses extrajudicial killings. Without accountability for killings of journalists, media freedom in the Philippines will remain under threat,” he said. (davaotoday.com)