A 16-year-old schoolboy, arrested by police in Kalinga Province in the north
of the country on 5 January 2005, has admitted to the 26 November murder of
Stephen Omais, which he said he carried out with five of his friends.
He told police that the six youths, all of whom were under the influence of
alcohol, decided to kill the first person they met. On leaving a bar they
came across Omais, dragged him along with them and brutally beat him about
the head before stoning him to death.
One of the five other suspects has been arrested and a court in Tabuk,
Kalinga Province issued an arrest warrant for the other four.
Omais was a reporter for the provincial bi-monthly Guru Press and local
public radio DZRK. Because of the circumstances of his death, Reporters
Without Borders did not include his name on a list of six journalists killed
in the Philippines in 2004 because of their work.
A second journalist murdered within one week
Reporters Without Borders expressed its deep concern after a second journalist was murdered within one week in the Philippines, the 13th to be killed this year.
Reporter Stephen Omais was found dead on 27 November 2004, near the city of Tabuk in Kalinga Province in the north of the country.
Appalled at this series of killings, the worldwide press freedom organisation called on the government to "urgently come up with some fresh approaches to halt this wave of violence against the press".
Omais, who worked for the provincial bi-weekly Guru Press and local public radio DZRK, was apparently killed on 26 November 2004. His body was discovered the following day with several head injuries apparently caused by stones found near the corpse. His family identified him a few days later.
A colleague at Guru Press, Estefania Kollin, said she had last seen Omais two weeks previously. He had been investigating a government public works project after which staff at the newspaper had received death threats.
The provincial governor and the police chief of Kalinga Province offered a reward of 20,000-pesos (about 270 euros) for information leading to the identity of Omais’s killer.
Police are questioning a friend of the murder victim and a cycle-rickshaw driver. Director General of the national police Edgar Aglipay said a suspect had been arrested on 3 December. He was Joey Patalig, 32, a professor at Tabuk Central School. No evidence of his guilty has yet been produced.
Reporters Without Borders called on the authorities to keep national and international organisations for the protection of journalists informed about any progress in the investigations.