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NUJP condemns killing of Catanduanes newspaper publisher

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Tuesday condemned the killing of Catanduanes-based journalist Larry Que, believing it is job-related considering the topic of his last newspaper column.

"His murder came after his column in Catanduanes News Now, of which he was publisher for only two weeks, in which he criticized what he called local officials' alleged negligence, which allowed the setting up on the island-province of a recently raided shabu laboratory that authorities claimed was the 'biggest' so far discovered in the country," said NUJP Secretary General Dabet Panelo in a statement.

Que's column, written in Bicolano, referred to the shabu laboratory discovered by police and military forces on November 26 in Brgy. Palta Small in Virac.

He also said in his column that it was likely that Chinese residents in the province assisted the Chinese nationals in setting up the facility.

Que was shot in the head by an unknown gunman around 10 a.m. on Monday as he was about to enter the building housing his insurance office in the town of Virac. He died about 1:45 a.m. on Tuesday.

The gunman, wearing a bonnet and raincoat, fled the crime scene on a motorcycle driven by his accomplice.

In condemning Que's murder, Panelo urged authorities, "particularly the Presidential Task Force on Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Members of the Media, to immediately solve his killing, the first of a media person under the Duterte administration." 

GMA News Online was still trying to contact the police in Region 5 for details of Que's killing.

Climate of fear

According to Panelo, local broadcaster Jinky Tabor has also received threats after acting as a witness to the raid on the shabu laboratory.

Panelo said the killing of Que and the threats to Tabor "created a climate of fear within the local media community."

"It should be stressed that the murder of Que is not the first assault on journalists under the current administration," Panelo said.

Aside from the cases of Que and Tabor, Panelo also mentioned that of Saturnino Estanio of Radio Mindanao Network's dxRS in Surigao City and Pangasinan journalist Virgilio Maganes.

Estanio and his 12-year-old son were wounded after being shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen on June 30. Maganes, on the other hand, survived an attempt on his life by gunmen who tried to make the incident appear like an extrajudicial killing related to the government's war on illegal drugs.

Prove respect for press freedom

Meanwhile, Panelo urged the Duterte administration to "walk the talk and prove its professed respect for press freedom" amid its passing of false blame against the media for misinterpreting the President's statements.

"We call on this administration to walk the talk and prove its professed respect for press freedom, not only by quickly solving these brazen assaults on press freedom but, just as importantly, by ending its penchant of falsely blaming media for deliberately misinterpreting its often inconsistent and incoherent messages and instead working on making its communications crystal-clear," Panelo said.

Panelo said the NUJP has yet to hear any updates from the probe of the special task force on media security over the botched assassination attempts against journalists.

Moreover, the NUJP criticized the demeanor of Duterte and his supporters who have "been openly hostile towards journalists and the media as a whole, with his loyal supporters taking up the cue and heaping insults, curses and even threats through social media on several of our colleagues." —Joseph Tristan Roxas/KBK, GMA News

Tags: nujp, larryque