MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday, December 21, condemned the killing of Larry Que – the first journalist killed under the Duterte administration.
“We condemn violence perpetuated against journalists, and we call on the authorities to investigate the matter so that justice will be served,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said during Wednesday’s news briefing.
The statement comes after the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joined the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in deploring what they called the “brutal murder” of Que – a journalist and columnist – on Monday, December 19.
“Larry Que is the first journalist killed in the Philippines under the new Duterte administration, however the Philippines remains one of the deadliest countries for journalists worldwide,” the IFJ said in a statement Tuesday, December 20.
According to the organization, Que was shot in the head Monday as he was entering his office in Virac, Catanduanes. He succumbed to his injuries and died at the hospital early Tuesday morning.
The IFJ said Que published a column criticizing local officials’ negligence in allowing a recently-raided shabu laboratory to be set up in Catanduanes. Authorities claimed it was, so far, the “biggest” shabu laboratory discovered in the Philippines. (READ: PNP on the lookout for more shabu labs in Bicol)
A second journalist, broadcaster Jinky Tabor, has also received death threats according to the NUJP. Tabor was witness to the raids that discovered the laboratory.
“Que’s murder demonstrates the increasing challenges that journalists in the Philippines face reporting on drugs. Action needs to be taken by the Duterte administration to guarantee the safety and security of the media across the country, and work to strengthen the freedom of the press to report on stories of public interest,” said IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.
Both the IFJ and NUJP called on the Presidential Task Force on Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Members of the Media to “immediately investigate the murder.”
Duterte created the presidential task force in October and gave it the duty of “ensuring a safe environment for media workers.”
The task force is chaired by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and co-chaired by Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
The administrative order that created the task force recognized that the Philippines is still among the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist. – Rappler.com