MANILA, Philippines – Two international press organizations called on Thursday to end impunity against Philippine media following the slaying of two Filipino tabloid columnists in Quezon City on Thursday.
France-based Reporters Without Borders and New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) both urged police authorities to probe the motives behind the killing of Richard Kho and Bonifacio Loreto, both columnists of the weekly tabloid “Aksyon Ngayon”.
“We urge police to investigate these murders thoroughly and identify the motive behind this double murder,” said CPJ senior Southeast Asia representative Shawn Crispin.
Kho and Loreto were shot dead before Tuesday midnight by two gunmen along Pilot Drive in Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City. The gunmen who were reportedly riding in a motorcycle immediately fled in the scene.
However, Reporters Without Borders wrote on its website that the killing was premeditated and the two journalists were clearly the target, further urging policemen to probe on the case.
“It is obvious from the method used that this double murder was premeditated. The two journalists were clearly targeted and were gunned down in cold blood. We urge the police to actively consider the possibility that they were killed in connection with their work. It seems the most likely explanation at this point,” Reporters Without Borders stated.
According to Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, the Philippines is ranked 140th out of 179 countries in the 2013.
On the other hand, research of CPJ showed that since 1992, at least 73 Filipino journalists have been killed in direct connection to their work, making Philippines the second deadliest country in the world for the press.
The group further said that at least 55 journalist murders in the past decade remain unresolved.
Moreover, CPJ appealed to the Philippine government to take a step against impunity in the Philippines, following the 2009 Maguindanao massacre which captured international attention and was considered the worst death toll for the press in recent history.
On the other hand, the weekly tabloid which had its last issue in March this year, has Kho’s column entitled “Clear Shots” while Loreto, also the tabloid’s publisher, was titled “Bicol Express.” Both columns tackled political issues.
Dessa Ruth B. Reyes
Leyte Normal University