We in the AlterMidya, a national network of independent and progressive media outfits are alarmed over the killing of two media practitioners in Sorsogon and Davao in the last two days. We condemn the continuing culture of impunity and violence in the country and demand justice for the two victims.
Teodoro Escanilla, 63, was gunned down by unidentified men on August 19 inside his house in Tagdon Village, Barcelona, Sorsogon. Escanilla, a spokesperson of human rights group Karapatan, anchored a radio program ‘Pamanang Lahi’ over local radio station DZMS for 10 years. According to Karapatan, Escanilla criticized the military for the rising human rights abuses in Sorsogon over his radio program.
In Tagum City unidentified gunmen also shot dead Gregorio Ybañez, president of the Davao del Norte Press and Radio-TV Club (DNPRC) on August 18 outside his home. Ybañez was the publisher of the weekly newspaper Kabuhayan News Services in Tagum City. He was also a radio blocktimer in Gold FM, a local radio station. His program “Isumbong Mo Kay Ben” (Tell it to Ben) reportedly tackled issues related to the ongoing conflict in the local electric cooperative where he served as director.
The assassination of Escanilla and Ybañez brings the number of media killings to 29 under the Aquino administration and 149 since 1986. Their deaths are a grim reminder of the Aquino administration’s evident sanction to the climate of impunity and injustice in the country.
The state should be held accountable for the deaths of Escanilla and Ybañez and of all other victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. AlterMidya joins human rights advocates and media organizations in seeking justice for Escanilla and Ybañez. We demand the immediate arrest of the masterminds and perpetrators of the killings. We call for an end to the escalating culture of impunity and the continuing attacks against the right to freedom of expression.