Philippines: Shooting of Inquirer Journalist Denounced

Apr. 19, 2007

MANILA –Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran expressed condemnation for the shooting of Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent in Southern Tagalog Delfin Mallari, saying that the shooting could very well be politically-motivated.

“Sonny is a journalist with a firm sense of social justice and an advocate of human rights. His reports and commentaries reveal his humane and humanitarian advocacies even as they are objectively written and delivered. There is strong basis to allege that his shooting was politically motivated and intended to either discourage his espousal of activist causes or completely silence him. We are much relieved to hear that he survived the attack and pray for his recovery. We extend a hand in comfort to his wife and family,” said Beltran.

Beltran said that it was more than likely that the Armed Forces of the Philippines Regional Special Action Force (RSAF) in Southern Tagalog are behind the slay attempt. He said that Mallari has been consistent in exposing the spate of extra-judicial killings in the region including the continued harassment members and officials of progressive party-lists and militant people’s groups at the hands of the AFP and its RSAF.

“Sonny is human rights advocate and he has been active in exposing the human rights violations in ST. This has earned him a hateful reputation among the military and paramilitary forces in the region who are the frequent targets of his reports and commentaries.”

The veteran labor leader turned legislator in the meantime said that it was evident that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is not acting on any of its promises that it will put an end to the attacks against journalists and freedom of the press in the country. He said that the slay attempt against Mallari and the recent murder of radio reporter Mark Palacios in Sta. Rosa, Nueva Ecija give lie to the government’s assertions that it is addressing the issue of violence against journalists.

“The Macapagal-Arroyo administration has not declared an all-out war against freedom of the press and members of the media in words, but its deeds are more than enough to prove that it is in fact undertaking an attack against the Philippine media. One the one hand Pres. Arroyo frequently exhorts the media to focus their coverage on events and developments that do not put her administration in a bad light; on the other hand we have her husband the First Gentleman filing libel charges left and right against journalists. The extrajudicial killings and harassment of journalists also continue unabated,” he said. #

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