By the Media for Peace

The journalistic profession is vital to the life of any nation.

It is the journalist’s job to tell the people what is happening in the country. By doing so, he or she guides the people in making decisions concerning the fate of the nation.

It follows thus that a free press is indispensable in the survival of any democracy.

But is there a free press to speak of when journalists live every moment of their lives in danger of death, for simply doing their jobs? Philippine history is replete with instances where journalists were murdered because there were those who did not want the truth to come out.

The recent spate of killings of Filipino journalists has made the Philippines as dangerous for journalists as Colombia. Six Filipino journalists have been killed in the Philippines in 2003 alone, a total of 13 under the Macapagal-Arroyo government which has oft claimed to have the highest respect for freedom of the press —a right enshrined in the Philippine Constitution and part of international human rights laws and principles.

Thus in less than three years, the Macapagal-Arroyo government has done a lot worse to journalists than both the Ramos and Estrada presidencies. In less than three years it has come dangerously close to approximating the number of media killings under the Aquino government.

Meanwhile, the names of Henry Romero and Alex Orcullo come to the minds of Filipino journalists whenever martial law is mentioned. They are but two of numerous journalists killed under the brutal hand of the Marcos dictatorship. But 17 years after Marcos’ ouster, media killings continue at levels as alarming as during the days of the dictatorship. No less than 49 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1986.

Under present circumstances, it is an exercise in futility, if not inanity, to talk about freedom of the press. Press freedom in the Philippines is as dead as the corpses of Benjaline Hernandez and Edgar Damalerio, two of the most shocking cases of media killings under the Macapagal-Arroyo government.

They were right, those who said that press freedom belongs not only to the members of the press but also to the people. The press, by informing the people, greatly influences the decisions they make in the determination of their collective destiny. The existence of a truly free press, thus, is in the ultimate interest of the people.

We enjoin our colleagues in the media to collectively or individually act in protest against the killings of Filipino journalists. We urge the people to defend their right to a free and independent press.

September 10, 2003


Date of Death Name (News Organization)
1 1986-Apr-24 Pete F. Mabazza (Manila Bulletin)
2 1986-Apr-24 Wilfredo Vicoy (Reuters)
3 ? 1986 Atty. Florante “Boy” de Castro
4 1987-Apr-12 Dionisio Perpetuo Joaquin (Olongapo News)
5 1987-Aug-27 Narciso Balani (DXRA)
6 1987-Aug-27 Rogie Zagado (DXRA)
7 1987-Aug-27 Leo Palo (DXRA)
8 1987-Aug-28 Martin Castor (Pilipino Ngayon)
9 1987-Aug-28 Ramon Noblejas (DYVL/ Tacloban City)
10 1988-Mar-29 Noel Miranda (Mindanao Scanner)
11 1988-Aug-12 Ruben R. Manrique (Luzon Tribune/ Bataan)
12 1988-Oct-30 Josef Aldeguer Nava (Visayan Life Today/ Iloilo)
13 1989-Oct-17 Severino Arcones (DYFM-Radyo Bombo/ Iloilo)
14 1989-Dec-01 Eddie Telan (Newscaster/ Manila)
15 1990-May-15 Reynaldo Catindig, Sr. (Northern Sierra Madre Express/ Isabela)
16 1990-Jul-08 Jean Ladringan (Southern Star/ General Santos City)
17 1991-Apr-14 Nesino Paulin Toling (Panguil Bay Monitor/ Ozamiz)
18 1992-Jul-01 Danilo Vergara (Philippine Post)
19 1992-July-03 Ladjid Ladja (Prensa Zamboanga)
20 1992-Sep-21 Rev. Greg Hapalla (DXAS/Zamboanga)
21 1992-Dec-30 Gloria Martin (DXXX/ Isabela Basilan)
22 1993-Jan-11 Romeo Andrada Legaspi (Voice of Zambales)
23 1993-Nov-22 Rosauro Lao (Cotabato News)
24 1993-Nov-22 Ding Sade (Cotabato News)
25 1996-Feb-12 Atty. Ferdinand Reyes (Press Freedom/ Dipolog City)
26 1996-Dec-15 Alberto Berbon (DZMM)
27 1997-Jun-03 Daniel J. Hernandez (People’s Journal Tonight)
28 1997-Dec-17 Regalado Mabazza (Polaris cable network)
29 ? 1998 Odilon Mallari (DXCP)
30 1998-Mar-29 Rey Bancairin (DXLL)
31 1998-Apr-16 Nelson Catipay (DXMY Radio)
32 1998-Oct-30 Dominador “Dom” Bentulan (DXGS)
33 1999-Apr-25 Frank Palma (Bombo Radyo)
34 2000-May-23 Vincent Rodriguez (DZMM)
35 2000-Nov-17 Olimpio Jalapit (DXPR)
36 2001-Jan-03 Rolando Ureta (DYKR)
37 2001-Feb-24 Muhammad Yusop (DXID)
38 2001-May-30 Candelario “Jhun” Cayona (DXLL)
39 2001-May-31 Joy Mortel (Mindoro Guardian)
40 2001-Aug-31 Noel Esin (dxBC Radio)
41 2002-Apr-05 Benjaline “Beng” Hernandez (CEGP)
42 2002-May-13 Edgar Damalerio (DXKP, Zamboanga Scribe, Mindanao Gold Star)
43 2002-Aug-22 Rhode Sonny Esguerra Alcantara (Kokus, Celestron Cable TV)
44 2003-Apr-28 John Belen Villanueva, Jr. (DZGB)
45 2003-May-17 Apolinario “Polly” Pobeda (DWTI)
46 2003-July-8 Bonifacio Gregorio (Dyaryo Banat)
47 2003-August 19 Noel Villarante (The Laguna Score/DZJV)
48 2003-August-20 Rico Ramirez (DXSF)
49 2003-Sept.-6 Juan “Jun” Pala (DXGO)
TOTAL: GMA-13; Estrada-5; Ramos- 14; Aquino-17
FIRST TWO AND A HALF YEARS IN POWER: GMA- 13; Estrada-5; Ramos-7; Aquino-12

Ederic Eder

Ederic is a Filipino communications worker in the telecom, media, and technology industry. He writes about K-dramas and Korean celebrities for Hallyudorama.

He used to be a social media manager for news at GMA Network, where he also headed YouScoop, GMA News and Public Affairs’ citizen journalism arm.

He was with Yahoo! Philippines for more than three years before returning to GMA Network, where he was also previously part of the News Research section.

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