NUJP statement on the killing of broadcaster Crispin Perez
Impunity is alive and well in the Philippines and has claimed the life of another journalist.
On Tuesday, a lone assassin shot and stabbed dead radio commentator Crispin Perez of radio station dwDO outside his home in San Jose City, Occidental Mindoro province.
He was the third journalist murdered this year and the 65th since 2001, when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power. Badrodin Abbas was murdered in January and Ernie Rollin in February.
His murder came six days after Remate reporter Jojo Trajano was killed in the crossfire while covering a police raid on a drug syndicate in Taytay, Rizal.
Two other broadcasters, Harrison Manalac and Nilo Labares, survived attempts on their lives in May and March, respectively.
Perez, 66, had just returned from hosting his morning program “Sa Totoo Lang” when the killer, who, according to witnesses, pretended to be seeking legal advice, approached the broadcaster and attacked him before casually walking away and the boarding a motorcycle to escape. Given Perez’ stature in the community — he was also a lawyer and former vice governor of the province — the brazen nature of his murder is stark proof that the enemies of press freedom and freedom of expression in this country have become so emboldened by the continued failure of government to stem the bloodshed and punish those responsible that they have no compunction about carrying out their evil missions in the broad light of day and in full sight of the citizenry.
While it cannot be discounted that his political and professional pursuits could have been factors in his murder, news reports have quoted Occidental Mindoro Governor Josephine Sato as saying Perez’ recent on-air criticism of a deal struck by a local cooperative and an “influential” private firm.
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.
This administration has long racked up the worst media death toll under any sitting president, including Ferdinand Marcos, who presided over a 14-year dictatorship, and the record has grown even worse.
This has come to pass not only because of official inaction but also because of this administration’s many displays of apathy and hostility towards a free and independent press, as shown by its attempt at a wholesale 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.
While there have been recent efforts to project forward movement in the pursuit of media killers, by and large, the enemies of press freedom in this country have mostly remained untouched, many of them doubtless walking the corridors of power.
And this government’s continued failure to end the silencing of those whose only fault is to seek to inform the people places it in tacit connivance with the killers.