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Victory over impunity in the Philippines with murder conviction

This statement was originally published on on 1 July 2016.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in strongly welcoming the murder conviction in the 2010 murder of broadcaster Desiderio Camangyan. The IFJ and NUJP welcome the progress made, but call on the government to take immediate action following the attempted murder of a journalist on June 30, 2016.

On Monday, June 27, Dennis Lumikid was convicted of murder by the Davao City Trial Court Branch 10. Lumikid, a local police officer, was sentenced to a maximum of 40 years imprisonment for the murder of Mati City broadcaster, Desiderio Camangyan on June 4, 2010. Camangyan was a blocktimer for a program on Sunrise FM. He was hosting a local singing contest in a village in Manay, Davao Oriental in the southern Philippines when he was killed.

While the NUJP welcomes the conviction, it condemns the assassination attempt on a Surigao City journalist on Thursday June 30, which left his 12-year-old son and neighbor injured. According to NUJP, Saturnino 'Jan' Estanio from Radio Mindanao Network-dxRS was shot at by two assailants riding tandem on a motorcycle. The gunmen looked to be in their 20s, and did not try to hide their faces.

In an interview following the attack, Estanio said that he believed the attack was related to his work, as three days prior, an unnamed person warned him to go easy on illegal game machines proliferating in Surigao City.

In a separate incident on June 24, Digos City broadcaster, Marland Malnegro was harassed when his house was shot at. The attack occurred at 1am, and although no one was injured, it damaged windows in his home. Malnegro found at least four empty shell casings outside his house. Prior to the attack, Malnegro had been critical of illegal gambling and drugs in his province.

The attacks come in the lead up to the inauguration of the Philippines 16th President, Rodrigo Duterte. President Duterte was inaugurated on June 30. Prior to the inauguration, the NUJP along with several other national media organisations wrote to the President-elect calling on him to take a stand against impunity and journalist safety in the Philippines.

Ryan Rosauro, chairperson of the NUJP said: "We demand that the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) immediately look into the likely involvement of police officers in the recent attacks against journalists in Surigao and Digos, especially in the spirit of Director General Ronald dela Rosa's vow that his leadership will be 'relentless in internal cleansing efforts'."

"Further, we hope that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte constitute soonest the special mechanism conceived by his transition people for the speedy disposition of cases of media killings and attacks in order to boost the drive against impunity in the country," said NUJP.

The IFJ said: "We join the NUJP in welcoming the murder conviction in the case of Desiderio Camangyan. While this is a win for impunity, the fact that it took over six years for a conviction to be recorded highlights the huge challenges that we face globally and in the Philippines. On average, only one in every ten journalist murders has a conviction. This is a terrible statistic."

"We join NUJP and the Philippines media in calling on the news President to take immediate steps to work to end the culture of impunity and violence against the media in the Philippines. The recent attacks on media workers show how much still needs to be done in the Philippines."

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