The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the recent murder of radio announcer Apolinario "Polly" Pobeda in Lucena City, Quezon Province. We call for a swift and thorough investigation into the killing and for those responsible to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
At about 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 17, two unidentified gunmen stopped Pobeda as he rode his motorcycle to work and shot him repeatedly, according to Philippine press reports. Pobeda suffered seven gunshot wounds, including one to his head. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.
CPJ believes that Pobeda may have been targeted for his journalistic work. On his radio program "Who Are They?" (Nosi Balasi) on DWTI-AM, Pobeda criticized corrupt local officials. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Pobeda was particularly outspoken against Lucena City mayor Ramon Talaga, whom the journalist accused of being involved in the local drug trade. Talaga told the Inquirer that he was not involved with Pobeda's murder.
Pobeda had received repeated death threats, including one about a month ago, according to his wife, Rowena Morales.
CPJ is investigating the motives behind several other recent attacks against journalists in the Philippines. On April 28, John Villanueva, a radio announcer for DZGB-AM, was shot dead while riding his motorcycle to work in Legazpi City. Police are investigating the murder, although Villanueva's family and colleagues believe it is unlikely that he was targeted for his journalistic work since he hosted public service and arts programs.
On April 29, Juan "Jun" Pala, also an announcer with DXGO-AM radio, survived an armed attack on his taxi in southern Davao City. On March 31, unidentified gunmen fired on radio announcer and former politician Efren Rafanan, of DZXE radio, in northern Vigan City. Rafanan survived the ambush, but his wife, son, brother and bodyguard were killed. The motives behind these attacks remain unclear.
According to CPJ records, 39 journalists have been killed for their work in the Philippines since democracy was restored there in 1986. No one has been convicted for any of these murders.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to defending our colleagues worldwide, CPJ is gravely concerned that murderers who target journalists continue to be treated with impunity. We respectfully urge Your Excellency to ensure that law enforcement officials conduct an impartial and thorough investigation into Polly Pobeda's murder and swiftly bring his killers to justice. We further ask that the results of the investigation be made public.
We also urge you to ensure that other attacks on journalists are fully investigated. Finally, CPJ calls on you to take steps to ensure that all journalists in the Philippines are able to work safely.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.
Ann K. Cooper