Killing of journalists continues unabated PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 10 October 2011 15:37

By BEN CAL

Killing of journalists continues with impunity - the latest victim was the editor-in-chief of a community newspaper based in Isabela who was gunned down in cold-blood by two gunmen riding on a motorcycle in Alicia town Friday morning.

Killed in the broad daylight brutal attack was Johnson Pascual, editor-in-chief and columnist of Prime News, a community newspaper in Cauayan City, Isabela province.

Pascual, 52, who is also the manager of the First Isabela Cooperative Bank, was driving his van along the national highway in Alicia when the suspects on a motorcycle sidled up to the right side of the victim’s vehicle and fired two successive shots.

Pascual was the sixth journalists killed the past few months and the 147 since 1986.

The unidentified gunmen casually sped away as if nothing happened.

Police said Pascual lost control of his van which plunged into a ravine.

The victim was hit in the head and torso.

Police are still investigating the motive of the murder whether it was a work-related as a journalist or as a banker.

Last month, Rufo Uy, manager of the Rural Bank of Angadanan, Isabela, was also shot and killed by motorcycle-riding men in front of his house in Alicia municipality.
The spate of killings in the country prompted media organizations to mount an intensified campaign to “stop killing journalists” but the slogan seems to have no effect as the killings continued unabated.

Media and rights groups say the Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists due to a “culture of impunity” where firearms are common and powerful figures believe they are above the law.

In the most infamous incident victimizing members of the press, 32 journalists were among 57 people murdered, known as the Maguindanao Massacre in the southern Philippines on Nov. 23, 2009, allegedly by members of a powerful clan who wanted to eliminate a rival’s political challenge.

The alleged masterminds and close to 100 out of the 200 suspects have been arrested and are currently being tried in court.
The trial may take years considering the huge number of suspects.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based media outfit, has condemned the fatal shooting of Pascual and called on Philippine authorities to investigate the case and prosecute the perpetrators. “We condemn the murder of Johnson Pascual and are concerned that he will become just another poorly investigated, unprosecuted crime, the sort that is commonplace in the Philippines,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. CPJ data for 2011 show that four journalists have died through violent attacks so far, but only the deaths of Romeo Olea and Gerardo Ortega have been determined to be related to their work as journalists. The Philippines ranks as the world’s third worst for the prosecution of journalists’ killers, CPJ’s Impunity Index shows.