Director-General condemns murder of Philippines radio journalist Fernando “Dong” BatulThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura today condemned the murder of Fernando “Dong” Batul, a journalist with the Palawan-based radio DYPR in Puerto Princesa, known for his outspokenness, on 22 May.
“I condemn the murder of Fernando “Dong” Batul,” the Director-General declared. “I trust that the Philippines authorities will find the culprits of this heinous crime and bring them to justice. This is all the more important in view of the number of journalists assassinated in the country.”
“It is completely unacceptable that murder be used to silence opinions,” Mr Matsuura added. “Such violence targets not only its individual victims but society as a whole, because open debate and the basic human right of freedom of expression are indispensable fundamental components of democracy and rule of law.”
The Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) reports that Fernando “Dong” Batul was shot dead by two men just one month after receiving death threats. CMFR reports that the 34-year-old Mr Batul was the fifth journalist killed in the Philippines this year. It says that 59 journalists have died in the line of duty since the restoration of democracy in the Philippines in 1986.
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…”