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IFJ outraged by murder of witness to journalists' massacre

UPDATE: Philippines' Aquino demonstrates selective political will (CPJ, 13 June 2012)

(IFJ/IFEX) - June 1, 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in expressing its outrage at the murder of yet another witness to the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre of 58 people, including 32 journalists and media workers, in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao.

Lawyer Nena Santos, who represents the family of Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, who lost his wife, sister and other relatives in the carnage that also claimed the lives of 32 media workers, said the brutalized body of witness Esmail Enog had been found in Mamasapano town, two months after he had gone missing.

His murder comes two years after that of another key witness, Suwaib Upham.

Relatives of witnesses have also reported being attacked, threatened, offered bribes and harassed.

Enog, a brother of Rakim Amil, one of the 100 massacre suspects who have been arrested and detained, had testified that he drove 36 of the accused, four of whom he identified, to the massacre site in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman.

Reports say he returned to Maguindanao after testifying, having refused to be enrolled in the government's witness protection program.

"To ensure a fair and just trial of those charged with the Ampatuan massacre, it is crucial that the Philippines government protect the safety of all witnesses and their families", IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqui Park said. "The IFJ joins the NUJP in demanding that Philippines President Benigno Aquino III order a full investigation into Enog's murder, and the reasons for the failure to ensure his safety."

"We further support NUJP's demands that President Aquino order the state's security and law enforcement agencies to arrest all the remaining massacre suspects who remain at large."
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