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Toll of media workers killed in massacre rises, attacks continue

(IFJ/IFEX) - January 20, 2010 - Another media worker has been confirmed to be among the 57 victims of the Maguindanao massacre in the Philippines on November 23, according to information received by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

Confirmation that the body of Saksi News photographer Jepon Cadagdagon, 28, was among those killed brings the toll of media personnel killed in the massacre to 32.

The toll includes 31 journalists and media workers whose bodies were recovered, including Cadagdagon, as well as Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay who remains missing, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate.

The news came as the Philippines media community continues to contend with attacks and intimidation.

On January 13, broadcast journalist Albert Loyola was reportedly assaulted by Iligan City Councilor Chonilo Ruiz while conducting a radio show on dxRJ station in Santa Felomina, Iligan City.

It is believed Ruiz was angry about a report by Loyola about the local city council budget, for which Ruiz is responsible. Loyola's report referred to allegations that Ruiz had falsely claimed funds allocated to community services for his meals during public hearings.

The assault, which occurred during a live broadcast, was audible to listeners and was recorded by the station.

Meanwhile, on January 12, GMA-7 network cameraman Cirilo Renduque and reporter Fabienne Paderes were denied access to Iloilo City's airport tarmac to report on the arrival of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo because Renduque was said to be wearing inappropriate clothing.

The NUJP reports that Renduque, who was wearing a shirt that said "Stop Killing Journalists" and which listed the names of media personnel killed in Maguindanao, was told by security officials he would not be allowed to take footage of the event unless he changed his shirt.

"The violence and intimidation directed against the Philippines media community is unfathomable," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"The Philippines Government must reverse its failure to protect the professional rights and lives of media workers."

An international solidarity mission report, prepared by international press freedom organisations that visited the Philippines in December to investigate the Maguindanao massacre, will be released shortly.

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