New York, April 19, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Philippine government to ensure prompt and thorough investigations into two separate shootings this week, one of which took the life of radio reporter Carmelo Palacios. Police have assigned the cases to a special task force that investigates attacks on journalists.
“We’re glad that the government has assigned its special unit to these cases, but it must keep pressure on its investigators to ensure that these cases do not go unsolved like so many others in the Philippines,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “The creation of the task force in 2004 was a good initial step, but arrests and convictions are needed now.”
The body of Palacios, a police reporter for the government-run DZRB Radio, was found by the roadside in Nueva Ecija, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) north of Manila, early Wednesday morning, according to Philippine press reports. He was apparently shot elsewhere the night before his body was dumped. Investigators said Palacios was shot once in the face, his body was heavily bruised in several places, and his jaw was broken. Police were unwilling to speculate on a motive for the killing, but colleagues told CPJ that Palacios was a strong investigative reporter.
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said Palacios had reported on alleged corruption. Rowena Paraan, secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists, told local reporters that she did not know if Palacios had been threatened. Police said his cell phone had been taken, but there was still a small amount of cash in a coin purse he was carrying. CPJ is investigating to determine whether the killing was related to his work.
In the second case, Philippine media reports say, two motorcycle-riding gunmen shot and wounded Delfin Mallari, a provincial reporter for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, on Thursday evening as he was traveling to Lucena City, 80 miles (110 kilometers) south of Manila. Mallari was said to be on his way to a radio station where he is a host of a talk show. Johnny Glorioso, who co-hosts the program and was also in the car, was not injured. Mallari was listed in stable condition after a bullet was removed from his body.
Philippine news reports quoted Mallari’s colleagues as saying that he had recently received threats. Mallari had written articles on illegal logging, toxic waste problems, and the illegal drug trade.
As is common among Philippine journalists, Mallari and Glorioso work for several media outlets. In addition to his talk show, Mallari is the editor in chief of Ang Dyaryo Natin (Our Newspaper), a local paper in Lucena; Glorioso, the paper’s publisher, also works for the ABS-CBN broadcast network.