The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today deplored the murder of a radio commentator from the southern Philippines who had campaigned against mining operators and their impact on local indigenous communities.
Roy Bagtikan Gallego was shot dead last Friday in the town of Lianga as he was about to launch a new programme on the station known as 92.7 Smile FM San Francisco, according to a statement issued by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The agency’s Director-General Irina Bokova condemned the killing and called for a thorough investigation, noting that the crime impinged on the entire society’s freedom of expression.
“Impunity for those who use gun power to silence debate and possible dissent must be stopped for the Philippines to benefit from the essential contribution of free and independent media to democracy and rule of law,” she said.
UNESCO said Mr. Gallego, who was also a Manobo indigenous community leader, “had campaigned against mining operators, claiming that their activities violated the rights of indigenous people in the region.”