53rd journalist murdered in Philippines under Arroyo; world media group shocked, outraged

Jun. 26, 2007

BRUSSELS — The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is shocked and outraged by the murder of yet another journalist in the Philippines, bringing the death toll to 53 journalists murdered under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

According to IFJ affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), reporter Vicente Sumalpong, of the government-run Radyo ng Bayan, was killed in an ambush in Bongao, Tawi Tawi early this morning.

Radyo ng Bayan journalist Vema Antham and staff member Ruelan Hope Borja were also reportedly wounded in the attack.

Despite public comments from the Arroyo administration which support the protection of journalists, these shockingly high figures tell another story, IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

Four journalists have lost their lives just this year, which adds to the 49 that have been murdered since 2001, under Arroyos regime, Park said.

According to the NUJP, Sumalpong and Antham had previously requested Radyo ng Bayan management to transfer them out of Tawi-Tawi, due to their growing safety concerns.

This raises even more questions about the value the Philippine government places in the lives of journalists, Park said.

All requests for assistance from journalists due to safety concerns must be taken seriously, she said.

It is a terrible tragedy that these requests were ignored, and we have needlessly lost another member of the Philippines media community, the director of IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

We call for a full investigation into this assault, to ensure those responsible are brought to justice, Park said.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries.

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