Director-General condemns murder of Philippines journalists Rolly Cañete and Graciano AquinoThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of Philippines journalists Rolly Cañete and Graciano Aquino on the on the 20th and 21st of January respectively.
“I condemn the assassination of Rolly Cañete and of Graciano Aquino,” the Director-General declared. “It is important for democracy and rule of law that journalists be allowed to do their work without let or hindrance, regardless of their political leanings. These heinous crimes represent onslaughts on the basic human right of freedom of expression and on another essential component of democracy: namely, media pluralism. I am extremely concerned by the number of journalists killed in the exercise of their profession in the Philippines, but I trust that that country’s authorities will succeed in upholding democracy as they continue to track those responsible for these crimes,” Mr Matsuura concluded.
Mr Cañete who was killed by unidentified gunmen on the streets of the city of Pagadian, in the south of the Philippines on his way home. He had daily programmes on three local radios, two of which – radio DXPA and DXBZ – are controlled by congressman Antonio Cerilles and his wife, provincial governor Aurora Cerilles, both of the opposition NPC party. Mr Cañete was employed by the couple as their spokesperson.
Graciano Aquino, a columnist for the local newspaper Central Luzon Forum and a former radio newsman, was shot dead on 21 January in the town of Morong on the Island of Luzon, according to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). It quotes reports saying that Armed attackers, reported to be members of the Marxist-Leninist Party of the Philippines, Rebolusyonaryong Hukbo ng Bayan, approached Aquino and shot him at close range in the nape of the neck.
According to Reporters Without Borders, seven journalists were murdered in the Philippines in 2005 and the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) reports that 22 journalists have been killed in the country since 2000.
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…”