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MANILA, Philippines – Four days after the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, press freedom advocates are demanding justice for the murder of radio host Juan Jumalon in Misamis Occidental.
Also known as DJ Johnny Walker, Jumalon was shot while on air on Sunday, November 5. He is the 199th journalist to be killed in the Philippines since 1986.
Under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., four journalists have been killed: Rey Blanco, Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, Cresenciano Bundoquin, and Jumalon.
While the Marcos administration has ordered a thorough probe into the murder of Jumalon, press freedom advocates stress that the culture of impunity, and the failure to recognize it officially, is the problem.
In a statement, anti-disinformation coalition #FactsFirstPH called Jumalon’s killing a blatant attack on the freedom of the press.
“We call on the government to acknowledge the existence of impunity that has made the killing of media workers almost a regular occurrence in a country known to be among the most dangerous for journalists,” the coalition said.
In the 2023 Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Philippines ranks eighth among countries where rampant persecution of journalists goes unpunished.
The CPJ also pointed out that although Marcos has avoided “overt antagonism” against the press since the beginning of his presidency in June 2022, a culture of self-censorship persists and there are no effective policies to protect the rights of media workers which the previous government of Rodrigo Duterte had violated.
Youth organizations like the Cavite State University Journalism Guild said Jumalon’s murder shows journalists in the Philippines are still unsafe and impunity remains rampant.
The University of the Philippines (UP) Tacloban College’s Vista Online also said the killing is “yet another stark reminder of the unrelenting culture of impunity that persists under the repressive regime of Marcos Jr.”
It is high time, various groups said, for the government to address the culture of impunity.
“Isang hamon para sa administrasyon na protektahan ang batayang karapatan ng mga mamamahayag para sa press freedom na hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin binibigyang pansin ni Marcos Jr.,” said UP Los Baños’ College of Development Communication Student Council.
(It is a challenge for the administration to protect the basic right of journalists to press freedom, which until now is still not given attention by Marcos Jr.)
UP Diliman’s College of Mass Communication said: “We call on the government to protect the lives, rights, and welfare of our media personnel. We enjoin all of you to support the cause of media in speaking truth to power, in rendering those in power accountable to all of us, and in upholding our freedom of the press.”
Ang Ignithayag, the student publication of St. Ignatius Academy-Cabuyao Campus in Laguna, described Jumalon as one of the Philippines’ brave broadcasters who served the country through truthful information.
“Patuloy kaming naninindigan sa pagpapaigting ng panawagan na itigil ang pagpaslang at protektahan ang kalayaan sa pamamahayag,” the publication said.
(We continue to stand firm in intensifying calls to stop the killings and protect the freedom of the press.) – with reports from Joey Alberto, Bless John, Nohraine Gaddi, and Kristine Vega/Rappler.com
Joey Alberto is a Development Communication student from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She is currently a volunteer for Rappler’s MovePH to hone her interests in community and development journalism.
Bless John is a Rappler volunteer from Negros Occidental. He graduated with a degree in English Language Studies and serves as an executive head of Akbay La Carlota-Youth, a nonpolitical, nonprofit organization in La Carlota City.
Nohraine Gaddi is a volunteer at Rappler and a graduate of the United World College-Robert Bosch College, having completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. She is currently taking a gap year to explore her interests in journalism and human rights.
Kristine Vega is a journalism graduate from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She is currently a volunteer for Rappler, writing stories centered on the community around her.