Alarmed by fatal attacks on Filipino journalists

Thursday, December 19, 2013

His Excellency Leslie B. Gatan
Ambassador of the Philippines to Canada
Embassy of the Philippines
130 Albert St., Suite 900
Ottawa ON K1P 5G4

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE strongly condemns recent assassination attempts targeting four Filipino broadcasters, killing Rogelio Estrada Butalid, Michael Diaz Melo and Joas Dignos and wounding Jonavin Villalba. These attacks are believed to be politically motivated and a direct result of comments made by these outspoken radio anchors. All four of these journalists had previously received anonymous death threats.

Rogelio Estrada Butalib was a commentator for the local Radyo Natin station and was killed in Tagum City on December 11. He was stopped by two unknown men on a motorbike and shot dead at close range. Jonavin Villalba, a reporter for dyOK Aksyon Radyo Iloilo, narrowly survived an assassination attempt outside his home in Jaro district on December 10. Michael Diaz Milo, a talk show host for DXFM radio, was killed in the City of Butuan by assailants on December 6 while broadcaster Joas Dignos was murdered in the City of Valencia on November 29.These assassination attempts all occurred within a span of two weeks and suspects in three of them remain at large.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 74 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1992 and this figure does not include the most recent murders that form the basis for this letter. Additional data from Human Rights Watch shows as many as 24 journalists have been killed since President Benigno Aquino took office in 2010, despite his promise to fight impunity. CJFE urges Filipino authorities to thoroughly investigate these murders and bring those responsible to justice in order to ensure safety for all journalists working in the country.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr. Neil Reeder, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines
The Honorable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs