Director-General condemns assassination of Philippines radio journalist Eldy GabinalesUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura condemned the murder on Tuesday of Philippines radio commentator Eldy Gabinales and reiterated his deep concern about the number of journalists killed in the country.
“I condemn the murder of Eldy Gabinales,” the Director-General said, “and I am deeply concerned about the number of journalists assassinated in the Philippines and I cannot overstate the importance of curbing these crimes which also constitute attacks on freedom of the press. These killings must be stopped if the Philippines is to enjoy fully the benefits of its otherwise exemplary democracy.”
According to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Mr Gabinales, also known as Eldy Sablas, was shot as he was riding his tricycle in Tandag, Surigao del Sur. The IFJ quotes unconfirmed reports by its affiliated National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), suggesting that Mr Gabinales may have been killed over his vocal opposition to alleged illegal drugs trade and illegal gambling in his town. He often expressed these views in a programme he hosted on local Radio DXJR-FM.
“Seeing media professionals executed because they are brave enough to denounce illegal activities is intolerable,” Mr Matsuura said, commenting the NUJP reports. “These murders highlight the fact that journalists play a vital role not only in sustaining democracy but also in contributing to the rule of law.”
According to IFJ, Mr Gabinales is the eighth journalist to be killed in the Philippines this year and the 57th murdered since 1986, when democracy was restored to the country.
UNESCO is the only 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 image…”