NO LESS than the Director-General of the United Nations agency responsible for defending freedom of expression and press freedom on Monday challenged the Aquino administration to bring to trial those responsible for the recent murders of three Filipino journalists.

In a statement, Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizaton) exhorted Philippine authorities to “ensure that those responsible for the killings of broadcasters Rogelio Butalib, Michael Diaz Milo and Joas Dignos, murdered in separate attacks recently, are brought to justice.”

Aside from these three cases, UNESCO’s official monitoring of media murders in the Philippines enrolls at least 13 other cases of journalists killed under the Aquino administration — all unsolved to this day — starting with Palawan radio anchor Gerardo ‘Gerry’ Ortega who was slain on January 24, 2011.

In all, UNESCO’s tally of journalists killed under the Aquino administration comes up to 16, in stark contrast to only six cases that government’s Task Force Usig had acknowledged to be “media murder” cases from July 2010 to October 2013.

“I condemn the attacks that claimed the lives of journalists Rogelio Butalib, Michael Diaz Milo and Joas Dignos,” Bokova said. “It is very important that those responsible for these murders be brought to trial. Media workers in the Philippines have been paying a heavy price for exercising their right to free speech and providing society with independent news and reports.”

The statement posted on the UNESCO website cited the circumstances of the recent media murders:

* Rogelio ‘Tata’ Butalid, 46, blocktime commentator at Radyo Natin, was shot dead right outside the station’s studios in the city of Tagum on December 11, 2013.

* Michael Diaz Milo, a talk show host for DXFM radio, was killed in Tandag City on December 6, 2013 by unidentified gunmen.

* DXGT radio broadcaster, Joas Dignos, was shot dead in the city of Valencia on November 29, 2013.

Bokova noted that this year alone, eight journalists had been killed in the Philippines.

UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.

Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.”

To realize this purpose the Organization is required to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and imageā€¦”

On 12 November 1997, UNESCO’s General Conference, at its 29th session, adopted the Resolution 29 “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists” inviting the Director-General to “condemn assassination and any physical violence against journalists as a crime against society, since this curtails freedom of expression and, as a consequence, the other rights and freedoms set forth in international human rights instruments and to urge that the competent authorities discharge their duty of preventing, investigating and punishing such crimes and remedying their consequences.”

UNESCO monitors attacks and killings of journalists across the world. Its page on the Philippines enrolls the following media murder cases from July 2011 to the present:


Rogelio ‘Tata’ Butalid
Blocktime commentator at Radyo Natin
Killed on 11 December 2013 in Philippines

Michael Diaz Milo
A talk show host for DXFM radio
Killed on 6 December 2013 in Philippines

Joas Dignos
DXGT radio broadcaster
Killed on 29 November 2013 in Philippines

Vergel Bico
An editor for weekly newspaper Kalahi
Killed on 4 September 2013 in Philippines

Fernando Solijon
Hosted a daily programme DxLS Love Radio
Killed on 29 August 2013 in Philippines

Mario Sy
Freelance contributor to Sapol News Bulletin newspaper
Killed on 1 August 2013 in Philippines

Bonifacio Loreto
Columnist for the Aksyon Ngayon
Killed on 30 July 2013 in Philippines

Richard Kho
Columnist for the Aksyon Ngayon
Killed on 30 July 2013 in Philippines

Eddie Jesus Apostol
Radio broadcaster for DXND Radio
Killed on 1 September 2012 in Philippines

Nestor Libaton
Radio news journalist for the Catholic Church-run dxHM
Killed on early May 2012 in Philippines

Aldion Layao
Journalist for GMA Super Radyo
Killed on early 8 April 2012 in Philippines

Christopher Guarin
Presenter on Radio Mindanao Network and Editor of Tarak News Nationwide
Killed on 5 January 2012 in Philippines

Roy Bagtikan Gallego
Radio journalist
Killed on 14 October 2011 in Philippines

Niel Jimena
Former informant of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Jimena, had programmes on several radio station
Killed on 30 August 2011 in Philippines

Marlina “Len” Flores-Sumera
News anchor for radio station dzME’s Arangkada
Killed on 24 March 2011 in Philippines

Gerardo Ortega
Journalist for the station Radio Mindanao Network (RMN)
Killed on 24 January 2011 in Philippines

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