Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about the kidnapping of environmental specialist Joey Estriber, a radio presenter in Aurora province, north-east of Manila, who condemned uncontrolled deforestation that caused the recent tragic landslides in the Philippines.
“Once again a courageous journalist has been the target of violence,” said Reporters Without Borders. “We call on the authorities, and in particular, the chief of police Arturo Lomibao, to mobilise his human resources to find Joey Estriber.
“Instead of attacking opposition media accused of collusion with the coup plotters, the authorities in Manila should tackle the endemic violence experienced by journalists in the provinces who condemn corruption and abuses,” it added.
On the evening of 3 March 2006, Joey Estriber, who presents a programme Pag-usapan Natin (Let’s talk about that!) on local radio DZJO, was abducted by four men in front of a cybercafé in Baler, Aurora province. According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the kidnappers dragged him into an unmarked van with tinted windows. He vainly tried to resist and shouted for help.
A few hours later the messages, “Don’t worry, I am fine” and “I am in hiding” were sent to colleagues from the journalist’s mobile phone. His family confirmed that he had been regularly threatened.
Estriber regularly spoke out against deforestation in Aurora province. In his programme, he complained about the intensive logging of trees carried out by companies who received backing from the administration. He took part in a campaign for the suspension of nine licences granted to logging companies in the province.
A landslide in the Aurora region left more than 100 dead in 2004. But logging has not been halted. In February, the national Philippine Daily Inquirer published a report headlined, “The trees go on falling in the forests of Aurora”.
Estriber is also one of the prime movers of the NGO Bataris which works for local development. In February, a soldier said on radio that organisations like Bataris should be fought.