Publisher shot dead in the Philippines

New York, April 8, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern over the murder of a journalist in Pasig city in the metropolitan region of the Philippine capital of Manila yesterday. CPJ is investigating to determine whether the killing has any connection to his reporting.

Benefredo Acabal, 34, was shot several times at close range by an unidentified gunman who fled the scene on a motorcycle, according to local and international news reports. Acabal, who publishes and writes a column for local paper The Filipino Newsmen in Cavite province, south of Manila, died from five gunshot wounds while en route to the hospital, the reports said.

Reuters cited local police officer Lardy Ignacio, who confirmed the death but said police were still investigating whether Acabal had been targeted for his journalism. The Philippine Star reported that Acabal was also involved in the trucking business.

“Our condolences go out to Acabal’s family and colleagues,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We urge police to immediately probe the motives in this crime and demonstrate that the murders of journalists will be dealt with thoroughly.”

The Philippines is one of the world’s deadliest nations for journalists. CPJ’s global impunity campaign will initially focus on Russia and the Philippines, where CPJ is working closely with local press groups. CPJ research shows an impunity rate of over 90 percent in murders of Philippine journalists.

On April 3, in a separate case, Redempto Anda, a correspondent for the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Palawan, an island southwest of Manila, received death threats that he believes are related to an April 1 article he wrote about a mining company threatening local forests, according to local press freedom groups.