Impunity is alive and well in the Philippines and has claimed the life
of another journalist.
On Tuesday, a lone assassin shot and stabbed dead radio commentator
Crispin Perez of radio station dwDO outside his home in San Jose City,
Occidental Mindoro province.
He was the third journalist murdered this year and the 65th since
2001, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power. Badrodin
Abbas was murdered in January and Ernie Rollin in February.
His murder came six days after Remate reporter Jojo Trajano was killed
in the crossfire while covering a police raid on a drug syndicate in
Two other broadcasters, Harrison Manalac and Nilo Labares, survived
attempts on their lives in May and March, respectively.
Perez, 66, had just returned from hosting his morning program “Sa
Totoo Lang” when the killer, who, according to witnesses, pretended to
be seeking legal advice, approached the broadcaster and attacked him
before casually walking away and the boarding a motorcycle to escape.
Given Perez’ stature in the community – he was also a lawyer and
former vice governor of the province – the brazen nature of his murder
is stark proof that the enemies of press freedom and freedom of
expression in this country have become so emboldened by the continued
failure of government to stem the bloodshed and punish those
responsible that they have no compunction about carrying out their
evil missions in the broad light of day and in full sight of the
While it cannot be discounted that his political and professional
pursuits could have been factors in his murder, news reports have
quoted Occidental Mindoro Governor Josephine Sato as saying Perez’
recent on-air criticism of a deal struck by a local cooperative and an
“influential” private firm.
We demand that authorities vigorously pursue all leads and work as
quickly as possible to identify and arrest not only Perez’s killer
but the mastermind as well.
This administration has long racked up the worst media death toll
under any sitting president, including Ferdinand Marcos, who presided
over a 14-year dictatorship, and the record has grown even worse.
This has come to pass not only because of official inaction but also
because of this administration’s many displays of apathy and hostility
towards a free and independent press, as shown by its attempt at a
wholesale clampdown on the media during the short-lived state of
national emergency in 2006, the mass arrest of journalists covering a
botched military uprising in 2007, and the multiple libel cases filed
by no less than the President’s husband against more than 40 media
While there have been recent efforts to project forward movement in
the pursuit of media killers, by and large, the enemies of press
freedom in this country have mostly remained untouched, many of them
doubtless walking the corridors of power.
And this government’s continued failure to end the silencing of those
whose only fault is to seek to inform the people places it in tacit
connivance with the killers.
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