THE NATIONAL Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Thursday urged the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to investigate attacks on journalists after a Mindoro Oriental broadcaster was shot dead on Wednesday.
In a statement, the group said the murder of 50-year-old radio broadcaster Cresenciano Bunduquin showed that journalism is still a dangerous profession in the Philippines.
“While we welcome what Reporters Without Borders calls encouraging developments in the country’s press freedom situation, cases like this show that the circumstances that put our colleagues, especially those in the regions, at risk are still there,” it said.
Justice spokesman Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV did not immediately reply to a Viber message seeking comment.
The Philippines placed 132nd out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2023 World Press Freedom Index released on May 3. It was the country’s best ranking in six years.
“The Philippine media are extremely vibrant despite the government’s targeted attacks and constant harassment, since 2016, of journalists and media outlets that are too critical,” it said on its website.
Police earlier reported that Mr. Bunduquin had been shot early Wednesday in front of a store he owned by unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle.
The attack came more than seven months after the murder of radio journalist Percival C. Mabasa, who was killed in a similar fashion on his way home in Las Piñas City on the evening of Oct. 3.
Mr. Mabasa’s YouTube channel, which had more than 200,000 subscribers, showed that he had been critical of the government of ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
“We assure the public that the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, as a national inter-agency task force mandated to protect the life, liberty and security of all members of the press, shall not fail in its mandate,” the task force said in a statement on Wednesday.
It added that the Social Welfare department would help Mr. Bunduquin’s family.
The NUJP has said there had been 60 reported cases of harassment, red-tagging and other cases of censorship against media practitioners under the Marcos government as of April 30.
Mr. Clavano earlier said the task force for media security, formed in 2016, would work with the police to probe media killings.
The Philippines has accepted 200 recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council, including protecting journalists and investigating extralegal killings.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines has urged the government to bolster efforts to guarantee press freedom.
The Philippines remained the seventh worst country in the world where journalist killers get away with murder, the New York-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists said in November.
The global watchdog said at least 85 Filipino journalists were killed between 1992 and 2022, 14 cases of which were still unsolved.
“Although the motives behind the attack on Bunduquin are yet unclear and a police investigation is ongoing, this latest killing is a grim reminder that journalism remains a dangerous profession in the Philippines,” NUJP said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez