IFJ Welcomes Arrests of Murder Suspects in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the arrests of two men suspected of murdering Aklan broadcaster Rolando Ureta on January 3, 2001.According to the National Union of Journalists, Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, Jessie Ticar surrendered to police after learning that fellow suspect Amador Raz was captured on November 26 after a Kalibo court issued a warrant for his arrest.

Ticar disclosed his plan to surrender during an interview on dyKR, Radio Mindanao Network, the same network that Ureta worked for as a program director when he was gunned down on his way home from work almost seven years ago.

A witness identified Ticar and Raz as the two men riding a motorcycle who shot Ureta on the national highway in Barangay village, Bagtu Lezo town, Aklan province, and killed him as he tried to reach a nearby residence for help.

Ureta had hosted the nightly program Agong Nightwatch. He was investigating the proliferation of illegal gambling and illegal drugs in the province when he was killed.

During investigations into his murder in 2001, the suspects denied involvement and questioned the credibility of the witness.

Both men are now charged with murder.

“The performance of the Philippines police, courts and judicial system must dramatically improve if fear-mongering and violence against journalists is to subside,” said IFJ’s Asia Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park.

“These latest arrests and charges underline why it is so important that police continue to investigate crimes against journalists in order to ensure that attackers are brought to justice and no longer pose a threat to the media and to all of society.”

In its 2007 report, Confronting the Perils of Journalism in the Philippines, the IFJ-NUJP Safety Office recorded 90 cases of murder of journalists or media workers in the Philippines over 20 years. Just three perpetrators have been convicted. Only eight cases remain active.

The IFJ joins the NUJP in welcoming the arrests and moves by the police and the courts to pursue cases of felony against journalists. The action should send a message that perpetrators of crimes against journalists will indeed be punished in accordance with the law.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

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