Trial Begins Over Murder of Radio Journalist in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes the commencement of a trial for the murder of radio journalist Roland Ureta in Kalibo, Aklan, on January 3, 2001.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, two suspects were arrested in November 2007 after one of the suspects disclosed his plan to surrender during an interview on dyKR, Radio Mindanao Network.

Ureta had hosted the Agong Nightwatch program on the same network and was investigating illegal gambling and drugs when he was killed, the NUJP reports.

Emily Ureta told the Cebu Regional Trial Court, which convened on May 9, that her late husband had received several death threats in relation to his job as a journalist before he was killed.

Amador Raz, one of the suspects who had formerly denied involvement in Ureta’s murder, was reportedly present at the hearing.

Local media reported that the other suspect, Jessie Ticar, died in a provincial hospital in Aklan in early May.

“This is an important step forward for the Philippine police, courts and judicial system in demonstrating to all perpetrators of violence against journalists that they will be brought to account,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

“Voices like Ureta’s are incredibly important in the fight against corruption in the Philippines and, in his memory, we honour his commitment to press freedom.”

The IFJ congratulates the NUJP and the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ) for their successful petition to the Supreme Court for the relocation of the trial from Aklan to Cebu City, citing the influence of the accused in Aklan as pertaining to a possibly unfair trial.

However, threats to the safety of journalists continue. On May 10, two correspondents from the Malaya newspaper were threatened with guns while reporting on a festival in Ifugao province.

According to the NUJP, Elena Catajan and Redgie Cawis were reportedly verbally abused by the vice mayor and town officials, who drew guns to scare the journalists.

The journalists were then reportedly followed by an unidentified man as they left the site.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

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