UNESCO deplores tragic frequency of murder of journalists in Philippines

Condemning the murder of two more Philippine journalists in just over two weeks, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today deplored the “tragic frequency” with which journalists are assassinated in the southeast Asian country. Romeo Sanchez, a broadcaster at DZNL radio in San Fernando City, was shot dead by a gunman on 9 March in a market in Baguio, while Arnulfo Villanueva, a columnist for the Asian Start Express Balita community newspaper, was found shot dead on 28 February on a road in the town of Naic. “The use of assassination to silence journalists is a grievous attack on democracy,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said. “It deprives society as a whole of the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and cannot be tolerated. Free and open debate is an essential component of democracy, which has no place for political assassination.” Calling on the Philippines’ authorities to do all they can to bring the culprits to justice, he added: “It is only through swift and determined action against those who use violence to silence the media that the tragic frequency with which journalists are assassinated in the Philippines can be reduced.” According to the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), at least eight journalists died in the Philippines last year “in circumstances suggesting that they may have been killed for exercising their profession.” UNESCO’s mandate includes the defence of freedom of expression and press freedom, and it has issued numerous denunciations of violence against journalists around the world in recent years.

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