Baguio media to GMA: Act on journalist killings

Latest killing a black gift for media practioneers

BAGUIO CITY (Dec. 26) — Condemning the latest killing of a Davao broadcaster on the eve of Christmas, local journalists here urged the administration of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to exercise its political will to protect the people by stopping the senseless killings of journalists.

Artemio Dumlao, chairperson of the local National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, claimed that the latest journalist victim of extra-judicial killing is a “black Christmas” gift by GMA to media practitioners. He identified the latest victim as Fernando “Batman” Lintuan of Davao City.

United States Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie A. Kenney supports the call for an impartial investigation on the killing of Lintuan and other victims of extra-judicial killings. Answering questions from local media during the dinner she sponsored at the US Ambassador residence in Club John Hay here, Kenney said any extra-judicial killing should be impartially investigated.

NUJP fact sheet shows that Lintuan was ambushed by a motor-riding gunman at close range – hitting him on the head – while on board his car at 10 AM on December 24. His two companions inside the car were identified as broadcasters Louie Ceniza and Edgar Banzon. Lintuan and his companions were leaving DxGO Aksyon Radyo when the incident happened.

“The worst attack against press freedom is continuing with the killing of journalists,” Dumlao said, adding this killing shows that journalists are still an endangered species in the country.

4th, not 5th, most dangerous country

The Philippines has been put by the Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign monitoring system (the PEC Ticking Clock) as the 5th most dangerous country in the world for journalists sharing such rank with Afghanistan.

Dumlao shared that with the 5th journalist killed in the country this year, the Philippines shares with Pakistan the fourth most dangerous countries for journalists to be. Pakistan is in a worse situation than the Philippines.

Before Lintuan was gunned down, the top four dangerous countries, according to the Geneva-based watchdog, are as follows: Iraq (1st with 50 journalists killed); Somalia (2nd); Sri Lanka (3rd); Pakistan (4th with five journalists killed); Afghanistan and Philippines (5th and with four journalists killed).

5th victim this year

Lintuan is the 5th media killed this year and the 54th journalists killed under the administration of GMA, the International Federation of Journalists – NUJP media safety office said in a press statement.

The other media victims of extra-judicial killings this year were Hernani Pastolero (Sultan Kudarat), Carmelito Palacios (Nueva Ecija), Dodie Nunez (Cavite) and Vicente Sumalpong (Tawi-Tawi), the same press statement added.

5th in Davao

The IFJ-NUJP media safety office added that Lintuan is the fifth Davao journalist killed since 1986, the year where democracy was reestablished in the Philippines. They identified the other victims as: Jun Porras Pala, killed on September 6, 2003; Broadcasters Narciso Balani, Rogie Zagado and Leo Palo were all killed on August 27, 1987.

Pala, Balani, Zagado, and Palo were all broadcasters of dxRA Aksyon Radyo, added the IFJ-NUJP press statement. Lintuan was a former broadcaster of dxRA.

Conduct in-depth probe

The NUJP – Davao chapter urged authorities to conduct deeper investigations on the killing of Lintuan.

“We call on the authorities to conduct an in-depth probe on the killing of Mr. Lintuan and bring those people involved to the bar of justice,” claimed Carmelito Q. Francisco, chairperson of NUJP-Davao.

Francisco added: “the late broadcaster was known for his stinging commentaries against erring politicians, backing this up with good researches and evidence.”

The death of Lintuan is doubly sorrowful for the media community here, pointed out Francisco, considering that Batman (as his friend fondly called Lintuan) was murdered on the eve of Christmas Day while other people are celebrating the nativity, his family lose its only breadwinner as he already lost his wife to cancer a few years ago.

“The killing of Lintuan only shows how barbaric this society has become and how dangerous it is for members of the Fourth estate to do their duties in this part of the globe,” he said.

Lintuan was also an official of the Philippine Sport Commission at the time of his death, ended Francisco. # Arthur L. Allad-iw for NORDIS

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