His Excellency President Benigno Aquino
President of the Philippines
23 November 2010
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern that more than 100 suspects remain at large one year after the murders of 57 people (including 32 journalists and media workers) on a bus headed for a political rally, and that little has been done to end the culture of impunity that surrounds the killing of journalists in your country.
On 23 November 2009, armed militia attacked an election convoy in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, killing 57 people. Nineteen of 196 suspects - including the alleged mastermind, Andal Ampatuan Jr., the son of the local mayor - are currently on trial for one of the murders. Another 47 suspects are in custody but have yet to be arraigned.
While welcoming these arrests and prosecutions, we are seriously concerned that more than 100 suspects remain at large, including police officers and members of the Ampatuans' militia. The failure to arrest and convict those responsible contributes to the culture of impunity that surrounds the murder of journalists in the Philippines. A total of 68 journalists have reportedly been murdered in your country since 1992, yet there have only been five
Furthermore, multiple instances of intimidation, violence and flaws have been reported since the beginning of the investigation and we are concerned that justice will not be served fully.
We respectfully call on you to do everything possible to ensure that all those responsible for the Ampatuan murders, and for killing journalists elsewhere in the Philippines, are identified and brought to justice. We respectfully call on you to end the culture of impunity and to provide an environment where journalists and media professionals can go about their daily duties without fear of violence.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
World Editors Forum
WAN-IFRA is the global organisation for the world's newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.