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UN condemns media killings

The head of the United Nations agency tasked to defend press freedom on Friday slammed the killing of at least five Filipino journalists in the past few months and urged the authorities to bring those guilty to justice. Irina Bokova, the director-general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in a statement condemned the killing of Vergel Bico, Fernando Solijon, Richard Kho, Bonifacio Loreto and Mario Sy. Sy, a freelance photo contributor to the Sapol News Bulletin newspaper, was shot on Aug. 1 by an unidentified man who had entered his house in South Cotabato. His killing came two days after the murder of Loreto and Kho, who were columnists for the weekly tabloid Aksyon Ngayon. It is very alarming to see three journalists killed in the space of two days, and I urge the authorities to do all in their power to bring the culprits of these crimes to justice, Bokova said. said. Bico, the editor of the weekly Kalahi newspaper in Calapan, Mindoro, was shot twice in the head on Sept. 4. He was known for writing about the illegal gambling activities taking place in his province. Solijon, a hard-hitting radio commentator of DXLS Love Radio in Iligan City, was shot eight times by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle on Aug. 29. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Solijon had criticized local politicians in his radio program and linked a village chief to illegal drugs. These two killings [Bico and Solijons] bring to five the number of Philippine journalists assassinated since July. I urge the authorities to take action to bring the culprits of these crimes to justice, Bokova said. On July 30, newspaper columnists Kho and Loreto were shot and killed by motorcycle-riding assailants in Quezon City. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating the circumstances behind the murders to determine if they were related to the victims work as journalists. At least 73 Filipino journalists have been killed in connection with their work since 1992, making the Philippines the second deadliest country in the world for the press, the committee said. It said at least 55 journalist murders in the past decade remained unresolved. The Philippines ranks third on the CPJs Impunity Index, which calculates the unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each countrys population. How many more journalists must be killed before President Benigno Aquino makes a genuine commitment to ending the cycle of impunity in media murders in the Philippines? said Shawn Crispin, the CPJs senior Southeast Asia representative.
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