Church adds to calls to protect media

Latest in a series of violent acts committed against Filipino journalists since 1986

Church adds to calls to protect media
Filipino journalists light candles to protest attacks on media practitioners
Bernardino Balabo, Malolos City, Philippines

June 9, 2011

The Catholic Church joined calls for the protection of media workers in the country after a governor in the northern Philippines reportedly threatened the life of a broadcaster on Tuesday. Broadcaster Jerome Tabanganay was hosting a radio program in the province of Kalinga when Governor Jocel Baac barged into the announcer’s booth and assaulted him. Monsignor Manuel Villaroman of the St. Francis of Assisi parish in the Diocese of Malolos condemned the attack on Tabanganay, adding that the best way to end the killings is by "understanding the value of human life." The incident was the latest in a series of violent acts committed against Filipino journalists since 1986 when democracy was restored in the country. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists placed the Philippines among 13 countries in the world, just behind war-torn Iraq and Somalia, where the lives of journalists are in danger, in its Impunity Index published June 1. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said yesterday the attack on Tabanganay "shows the extent to which this system of governance has allowed petty tyrants and the enemies of truth to... silence those with whom they disagree." Governor Baac, however, denied the allegation, saying he did not hit Tabanganay and the microphone hitting Tabanganay was "accidental". "I disconnected the microphone and it hit his mouth. But his claim that I beat him up (is) not true," Baac said in a radio interview on Wednesday. The International Federation of Journalists on Wednesday also condemned the attack as it called for "reasonable protection" to Tabanganay and the staff of his radio station. “This is yet another example of the unacceptable use of violence and intimidation against media workers in the Philippines,” said IFJ Asia-Pacific director Jacqueline Park.