Director-General condemns assassination of Philippines radio journalist Rolando MoralesUNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the assassination of radio journalist Rolando Morales in General Santos City, in the southwest of the Philippines on July 3.
“I condemn the assassination of Rolando Morales,” the Director-General declared. “His brutal killing shows how disturbing the work of journalists is to criminals determined to continue operating out of sight. It is essential that all possible measures be taken to punish those responsible for such crimes.”
“I am very concerned,” Mr Matsuura added, “by the heavy price paid by journalists in the Philippines. I am confident in the Philippine authorities’ determination to bring those responsible to justice, which is crucial to ensure respect for freedom of expression as a basic right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and an essential component of both good governance and democracy.”
Mr Morales is reported to have been attacked by several gunmen as he was leaving the premises of Radio Mindanao’s dxMD station, where he had hosted his Cebuano-language programme. The journalist also served on the local anti-crime task force through which he became aware of illegal drug-related activities, which he sometimes exposed in his programme. He also reportedly accused several officials in General Santos City of involvement in summary executions.
According to the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Mr Morales is the fifth journalist to be killed in the Philippines this year. Six journalists died in the line of duty in 2004, and seven in 2003. Morales is also the third journalist to be murdered in Mindanao this year, according to CMFR.
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…”