Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Philippines presidential candidates must agree to protect journalists: IFJ

MANILA, Philippines - The International Federation of Journalists has called on all the candidates running for the presidency in the Philippines to make a public commitment to overturn the country's culture of impunity for the killing of journalists.

The call comes as the Philippines government announced it would drop charges of multiple murder against Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan, both of whom were arrested after the massacre of 57 people, including 32 members of the media, last November.

The IFJ, in company with other press watchdogs and many Filipino journalists, believes the decision - made by the Philippines' acting justice secretary, Alberto Agra - suggests political interference in the judicial process.

The Ampatuan family is known for its support of the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and for involvement in voting irregularities that benefited Arroyo in previous elections.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in a statement: "It is not for us to proclaim the innocence or guilt of either Ampatuan... But neither is it for Agra to do so. Not after the charges have been formally filed in court. Not after the judge has issued a commitment order against them."

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