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Journalist's would-be murderer sentenced to prison

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 1 April 2008 IFJ press release:

12 Years' Jail for Attempted Murder of Journalist in the Philippines

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes a decision by the Cebu Regional Trial Court (RTC) in the Philippines in finding John Lloyd Ortiz guilty of attempted murder of Cebu radio broadcaster Cirse "Choy" Torralba on June 8, 2004.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, Judge Estela Alam Singco issued the 29-page decision on March 31, sentencing Ortiz to up to 12 years in jail.

Ortiz pleaded not guilty to a charge of shooting Torralba several times while he was driving past the dyAR radio station in Cebu City. Torrabla, who now has a program at the dyLA station in Cebu City, was seriously injured.

Judge Singco also ordered Ortiz to pay Torralba P161,214 (about US$3880) in damages for indemnity, medical expenses and car repairs. The NUJP reports that Torralba was elated at the verdict but disappointed by the amount of damages approved. He had filed for P1 million (about US$24,000).

"I'm not satisfied with the compensation, but it's alright. The most important thing is that I'm still alive," Torralba was reported as saying.

As many as 91 murders of journalists and media workers have been recorded by the NUJP in the past 20 years. Only four perpetrators have been convicted and only eight investigations are active.

"The conviction of John Lloyd Ortiz for the attempted murder of a journalist is a great symbolic step forward for all journalists in the Philippines, who now know that there is one less killer on the streets," said IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park.

"There is still a long way to go for the culture of fear and suspicion among the media community in the Philippines to change. But through further cooperation between journalists, the judiciary and local authorities, perpetrators of violence will get the message that they will not get away with attacks on media personnel."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

Updates the Torralba case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/59410

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