UNESCO chief condemns murder of journalists in Philippines

10 September 2003

The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the recent murder of three journalists in the Philippines in the past three weeks, calling for the punishment of the perpetrators in a country where six journalists have been killed so far this year.

"These killings undermine the Philippines' proven commitment to freedom of the press since the return of democracy in 1986," Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said in a news release, noting that the latest "assassinations" were among dozens against journalists in the Philippines in recent years.

"As long as the gun is used to muzzle journalists, there can be no real freedom of expression," he added.

Mr. Matsuura also voiced his support for the Philippines Government "in its determination to investigate these crimes and punish their perpetrators."

Juan "Jun" Pala, who had a daily programme on DXGO radio, was killed last Saturday in the southern city of Davao in the third attempt on his life. Rico Ramirez, a journalist for DXSF radio was murdered in San Francisco in the province of Agusan del Sur on 20 August, and Noel Villarante, a reporter for DZJV radio and local newspaper Laguna Score, was shot dead in Santa Cruz City in central Laguna Province the day before.