Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Office of the President
New Executive Building, Malacanang Palace Compound
J.P.Laurel Street, San Miguel, Metro Manila,
Philippines Fax: +632 735 80 06
Oslo, 21 February 2007
I, as Chair of The Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN, condemns the murder of Hernani Pastolero, editor of the weekly Lightning Courier, who was shot dead on 19 February 2007 on the island of Mindanao. The motive for the murder is unknown. A senior Mindanao police officer is reported to have said he believed witnesses were afraid to speak out.
According to a report on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) website, 49 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since President Gloria Arroyo came to power in 2001. Most have been provincial radio reporters believed to have been targeted for their reporting on local corruption and criminal gangs, and it is said that no-one has been successfully prosecuted for any of these killings.
I am alarmed at the number of journalists who continue to be killed with impunity in the Philippines, including editor Hernani Pastolero, and I urge you, Your Excellency, to take all necessary steps to ensure that all acts of violence against journalists are vigourously investigated.
I am also alarmed at the number of journalists who continue to be targeted with apparent impunity for their reporting in the Philippines, and I call upon the Filipino authorities to ensure that all acts of violence against journalists are vigourously investigated and prosecuted.
I trust that you, Your Excellency, will take immediate steps to see to it that those responsible are brought to justice.
Elisabet W. Middelthon
Chair Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo
The Filipino Embassy in Sweden/Norway
The Norwegian Embassy in the Philippines