Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Tokyo, Japan on December 17, 2023.
Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is seen in Tokyo, Japan, in December 2023. CPJ and partners called on Germany to discuss journalist Gerry Ortega's murder during Marcos Jr.'s visit to Germany starting on March 11, 2024. (Photo: Reuters/Kazuhiro Nogi)

CPJ, partners urge Germany’s Scholz to press Philippine leader on journalist’s killing during visit

March 11, 2024 – German authorities must prioritize the Philippines’ abysmal record of impunity in the murder of journalists during the official visit by Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. scheduled for  March 11-13, a coalition of three international press freedom organizations said on Monday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz should make press freedom and specifically the case of murdered journalist Gerry Ortega, who exposed local corruption, a core element of discussions with President Marcos Jr., particularly given Germany’s special responsibility as co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition, a grouping of 50 countries committed to promote press freedom at home and abroad.

The coalition – comprised of Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – met with Philippine authorities in Manila on February 29 and March 1 to provide new and actionable information that points to the location of former provincial governor Joel T. Reyes, who is the alleged mastermind of Ortega’s murder in 2011 but remains at large, despite an outstanding arrest warrant issued in 2023.

“An alleged mastermind in the murder of a journalist remains unjustifiably at large in the Philippines, despite an arrest warrant. This is a troubling signal that the free press is fair game,” the coalition said. “We urge Chancellor Scholz to ensure that the media’s role as a pillar of democracy that holds power to account is protected, and that justice is delivered specifically in the case of Gerry Ortega, when he holds talks with President Marcos Jr.”

Ortega, a radio and environmental journalist based on the island of Palawan in the Philippines, reported on corruption within the administration of ex-Palawan governor Reyes before he was murdered.

The three international organizations, who together form the ‘A Safer World for the Truth’ initiative, have investigated the Ortega case since 2020. Despite damning evidence implicating Reyes as the mastermind, the former governor has to this day continued to evade arrest and remains at large.

Ortega’s murder is emblematic of the entrenched impunity in media killings in the Philippines. Since 1992, 96 journalists have been murdered in connection with their work in the Southeast Asian country, according to CPJ’s data.

The Philippines ranked eighth on CPJ’s 2023 Global Impunity Index and 132nd on RSF’s World Press Freedom Index last year.


Spokespeople are available for interviews in English:

Free Press Unlimited (Amsterdam): Jos Bartman [email protected]

Committee to Protect Journalists (Frankfurt/New York): Beh Lih Yi, [email protected]; [email protected]

Reporters Without Borders (Taipei/Paris): Aleksandra Bielakowska, [email protected]


A Safer World For The Truth is a collaboration between Free Press Unlimited (FPU), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). We investigate murders through a series of cold case investigations to push for justice on the national level, and we organize the People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists to put a spotlight on states’ obligation to protect journalists and to investigate all attacks against them. To learn more about the project, visit our website

Please see A Safer World for the Truth report about Gerry Ortega’s case published in 2022.

About the partners:

Free Press Unlimited (FPU): Free Press Unlimited is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Free Press Unlimited helps local journalists in conflict areas to provide their audience with independent news and reliable information. The information that people need to survive and give shape to their own future. –

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. Based in New York, we defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal. –

Reporters Without Borders – known internationally as Reporters sans frontières (RSF) – is an international non-profit organisation at the forefront of the defence and promotion of freedom of information. RSF acts globally for the freedom, pluralism, and independence of journalism and defends those who embody those ideals. Recognised as a public interest organisation in France since 1995, RSF has consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, and the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF). Founded in 1985 and headquartered in Paris, RSF has 13 country sections and bureaus, including a bureau in Taipei and section in Berlin, and a network of correspondents in more than 130 countries.