Filipino editor, publisher killed
Journalist is the sixth slain in just over a month
By: Shadi Alkasim, Li Journalism Fellow
VIENNA, Sept 6, 2013 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed alarm at Thursday’s killing of a journalist in the Philippines, the sixth killed in just over a month and the second slain in the country in just a week.
According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Vergel Bico, editor and publisher of the Kalahi newspaper, was travelling on a motorcycle in Barangay Pachoca, a village in the province of Oriental Mindoro, around 4 p.m. on Sept. 5 when he was shot twice in the head by two unidentified men riding a motorcycle.
Ronald Bula, publisher of the Bandera Pilipino weekly, where Bico worked as a columnist for two years until leaving in October 2012, said the slain journalist recently wrote about illegal gambling, the daily Inquirer reported.
According to the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, 90 percent of the journalists killed since 1986 were slain for exposing corruption and criminality. The group called for the speedy resolution of murder cases against journalists to end the culture of impunity in the country.
IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi said: “We offer our condolences to the colleagues, family and friends of Mr. Vergel Bico and, once again, we urge authorities to conduct a swift and transparent investigation into the killing and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
In September 2011 an IPI delegation visited Manila to address concerns related to violence against journalists in the country. In meetings with high-level representatives of the office of Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Philippines Department of Justice, and the Department of Interior and Local Policy, as well as representatives of local media and journalists' groups, IPI called for reform of the country's judicial and legal systems in order to address widespread and endemic impunity in crimes against journalists.
IPI also urged the Philippines to bring the country’s laws and practices in line with international standards on press freedom and freedom of information, in particular in the field of defamation and access to information.