By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Another Filipino journalist has been killed, the latest in a series of murders that prompted a media group to say that “impunity is alive and well in the Philippines.”
Radio commentator Crispin Perez, 66, was shot dead on Friday outside his home in San Jose City, Occidental Mindoro, a province 195 kilometers south of Manila.
Witnesses said Perez had just returned from his morning radio program “Sa Totoo Lang” on DWDO when the suspect, pretending to seek his legal advice, approached and fired at him, then casually walked away and boarded a motorcycle.
Perez was a lawyer and former vice governor of the said province. Recent news reports revealed that before he was killed, Perez criticized on air a deal made by a local cooperative and an “influential” private firm.
Perez was the third journalist murdered this year and the 65th since President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo came into power in 2001. Badrodin Abbas, a radio commentator from Cotabato City, was also shot dead in January, while radio broadcaster Ernie Rollin from Misamis Occidental was killed in February. Two radio broadcasters Harrison Manalac and Nilo Labares, survived attempts on their lives in May and March, respectively.
“We demand that authorities vigorously pursue all leads and work as quickly as possible to identify and arrest not only Perez’s killer but the mastermind as well,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in a statement.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement on Friday urging the local police and the Philippine government to pursue the investigation into Perez’s murder promptly “to establish whether he was killed for his broadcasts.”
“Authorities must address the shockingly high level of violence against Philippine journalists by bringing those responsible to justice,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia Program coordinator.
Meanwhile, the NUJP said the Arroyo administration has clearly manifested its attempt to “clampdown on the media during the short-lived state of national emergency in 2006, the mass arrest of journalists covering a botched military uprising in 2007, and the multiple libel cases filed by no less than the President’s husband against more than 40 media practitioners.”
Although NUJP recognized some of the efforts to capture media killers and “enemies of press freedom in the country”, many cases remain unresolved and the perpetrators “doubtlessly walking along the corridors of power.”