"For several years now, Reporters Without Borders has condemned the fact that those who have killed journalists in the provinces of Mindanao Island remain unpunished. The government must react now, by mobilising the police and judiciary to investigate these murders as a matter of urgency", writes Robert Ménard, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières - RSF), in a letter to Interior Minister José Lina.
This expression of grave concern by RSF follows the murder of journalist Edgar Damalerio, who worked for the public radio DXKP and was editor of the local Zamboanga Scribe in Pagadian, in the west of Mindanao Island. The organisation that defends press freedom called on the Minister to "intervene so as to ensure that the security services identify those who carried out and those who ordered this assassination." RSF has asked to be kept informed of the investigation’s progress.
According to RSF’s information, Edgar Damalerio, a journalist with the public radio DXKP and editor of the local Zamboanga Scribe, was killed on 13 May 2002, as he was driving home from work in a jeep with two colleagues. A police officer is quoted by the Associated Press agency as having stated that the journalist was shot at point-blank range by two unidentified individuals riding a motorcycle. The attackers managed to escape.
According to some of his colleagues, Edgar Damalerio, who was known for his integrity, had written numerous articles about corruption in political and police circles in this region of the Philippines where the security forces are fighting armed separatist groups. According to the police, the killers could be those who recently murdered two officials from Pagadian.
Edgar Damalerio is the second journalist to be killed in the southern Philippines since 1 January 2002. In April, journalist and human rights activist Benjaline "Beng" Hernandez was killed by soldiers in Cotabato province. In addition, at least two journalists were killed on Mindanao Island in 2001, making this one of the world’s most dangerous regions for journalists.