Reporters Without Borders has expressed outrage at the murder of a photographer and a radio boss, a murder attempt against a TV presenter and death threats against a reporter, in a black week for press freedom in the Philippines.
Ten journalists have been murdered in the country so far this year, making it the world’s most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq.
The worldwide press freedom organisation called on President Gloria Arroyo to "take fresh steps to counter violence against the press."
"The ongoing impunity calls for more effective investigations. Police investigations are not always effective and the courts are too slow to try the rare murderers of journalists who are arrested", said the organisation’s general secretary Robert Ménard in the letter to the president.
Herson Hinolan, commentator and director of Bombo Radyo in Kalibo, on Panay Island in the centre of the country, died in hospital on 15 November two days after an unidentified gunman opened fire on him leaving him with seven bullet wounds to his body and legs. He was out for the evening with friends, who were unhurt. The gunman escaped.
The motive for the murder was not known but the radio station’s editorial chief Ernie Zamboang said it could have been linked to issues raised by Hinolan on his daily show "Bombohanay Bigtime". Hinolan, nicknamed "Bombo Boy", had spoken out against illegal gaming and exposed protection of traffickers by some members of the military.
Immediately after Hinolan’s murder, a reporter on Bombo Radyo, Joven Anisco, received threats that he would suffer the same fate as his colleague.
Shots were fired on 13 November at a car belonging to cable TV presenter Eric Tenerife of Progressive Channel in Bacolod City, on Negros Island in central Philippines. The journalist, who had just returned home with his family, escaped injury.
Photographer Gene Boyd Lumawag (picture) of the press agency Mindanews was shot dead by a lone gunman on Jolo Island in the south of the Philippines on 12 November. The army accuses the Islamist group Abu Sayyaf of being behind the murder. Police on 16 November arrested and interrogated two suspects.
On 11 November, a reporter for ABS-CBN TV5 Paul Palacio and his cameraman Loloy Cagayan were prevented from filming close to a military HQ in Cotabato City on Mindanao Island by soldiers who fired several shots in their direction. The journalists said they would make an official complaint.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) called a day of action on 17 November in reaction to the wave of violence against the media. Reporters Without Borders gives its full backing to this protest on the part of Philippines journalists.