Reporters Without Borders voiced satisfaction after the arrest of Clarito Arizobal, chief suspect in the murder on 11 February 2004, of radio commentator Rowell Endrinal. Police arrested him on 26 May in Legaspi, southeast of Manila, after three weeks surveillance of the suspected hit man. Clarito Arizobal, 38, is also suspected of involvement in other murders and burglaries.
The organisation also noted efforts undertaken by the Philippines authorities to speed up investigations into the murders of journalists. "The culture of impunity can only be defeated by the arrest of killers and instigators of murders and not just through them being identified", the organisation said. Philippines police boasted to a senate hearing on 24 May that they had solved most of the murders, but without necessarily having put the killers behind bars.
Radio commentator gunned down in Legaspi
Reporters Without Borders voiced concern about the murder of radio commentator Rowell Endrinal in the central city of Legaspi today, noting that it came at the start of the run-up to elections. If left unpunished, it could open the way for more attacks on journalists, the organisation warned.
Endrinal, who was well-known for criticising corruption in the elite, was shot several times by two gunmen on a motorcycle early this morning as he left his home to go and present his programme on radio DZRC. The 45-year-old journalist was also head of the local press club and published a newspaper, Bicol Metro News.
His wife said he had received death threats in the past few days from businessmen and politicians. Yesterday evening, he received a death threat in an anonymous call to his mobile phone, she said.
Reporters Without Borders called on interior minister Jose Lina to order a thorough investigation into Endrinal’s death to ensure that the instigators are identified and punished. The organisation also urged local political leaders to call for calm in their districts.
A grim record was set last year in the Philippines. A total of seven journalists were murdered - the highest number since democracy was established in 1986. Some of the hit-men involved were arrested, but not any of the instigators.