The Committee to Protect Journalists urged Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday to act to stop attacks against the press in the country after three journalists were killed recently.
Shawn Crispin, the group’s Southeast Asia representative, said in a statement the killings show “how the lack of progress in ending impunity has emboldened those bent on silencing the press in the Philippines.”
Over the past two weeks, unidentified gunmen killed radio broadcasters Cosme Maestrado and Teodoro Escanilla and columnist and publisher Gregorio Ybanez.
The Philippine media watchdog Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility says if all three murders were determined to be work-related, the number of journalists killed in the country would rise to 150 since democracy was restored following the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.
“We call on President Benigno Aquino to give top priority to swiftly resolving these egregious cases,” Crispin said. “Until Aquino demonstrates his government is serious about ending the onslaught, the killings will inevitably continue.”
Presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma has condemned the attacks and said the police have been tasked to find the killers.
Maestrado, who tackled corruption and abuse of power in his radio program in DXOC station in southern Ozamiz City, was shot multiple times outside a shopping center about two hours after closing his morning program on Aug. 27. Maestrado, who had the word “corruption” prominently tattooed on one of his arms, was popular for his hard hitting commentaries, radio station manager Remegio Bonustro said.