Media watchdog wants probe into death of Duterte critic

Feb. 23, 2017

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines called for an investigation into the September 2003 killing of Davao broadcaster Jun Pala, a known critic of then mayor and now Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The recent revelation of SPO3 Arthur Lascanas that the murder of Davao broadcaster Jun Pala was allegedly ordered by now President Rodrigo Duterte deserves serious investigation,” the NUJP said in a statement Wednesday.

The NUJP made the call after Lascanas, a self-confessed member of the Davao Death Squad, ​accused Duterte of ordering the killing of Pala. Duterte was then mayor of Davao City.

The group said that Lascanas’ statement echoes the earlier statement of self-confessed DDS member Edgar Matobato that Duterte ordered Pala’s killing.  The recent admission of Lascañas, however, was a retraction of his earlier statement in a Senate hearing, saying that DDS was a only a “media hyped.”

“If Duterte did order Pala’s murder, then he should be tried and convicted for it, no ands, ifs or buts. But whether he ordered the hit or not, what matters is that there are now two potential witnesses whose accounts may finally lay bare the truth behind Pala’s death,” the NUJP pointed out.

NUJP  said Pala was deprived of his life without due process. “Whatever his sins may have been, Pala, just like all the other journalists murdered in this country since 1986, was deprived of his life without due process. To justify Pala’s death is to justify the death of all journalists killed.”

“We are aware of the strong emotions Pala invoke and that there are those who feel grief is wasted on him and any honest attempt to probe his killing would be an exercise in futility,” the media watchdog said.  (

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