International media groups decry killing of radio blocktimer

MANILA -- Three international organizations that promote press freedom and journalists' welfare condemned the recent alleged killing of a radio program host in Kidapawan two weeks after he was reported missing.

The International Press Institute (IPI) called for an "exhaustive investigation" on the alleged killing of Eddie Jesus Apostol, co-host of the blocktime program "Konseho sa Kahanginan" (Council on the Air) on radio station dxND in Kidapawan.

"There is too strong a tradition of radio journalists in the Philippines being targeted for the authorities to allow this incident to pass without an investigation into the motive behind the murder of Eddie Jesus Apostol," IPI deputy director Anthony Mills said on the group's website.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also urged the government to probe the alleged media killing.

"Philippine authorities must immediately investigate the murder of a radio journalist, establish the motive, and bring the perpetrators to justice," the CPJ said.

On September 1, Apostol's body was found in the Liguasan Marsh near Sultan sa Barongis town, according to dxND programming director Malu Manar, who is also the Kidapawan chair of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP).

Manar also said a military official told her that Apostol's body was hogtied and had been shot twice in the head.

She added that Apostol was still an active radio program co-host before his death. However, it is not yet certain if his murder was connected to his work or may have been related to his activities as a treasure hunter.

Apostol's program "discussed only developmental issues and mainly interviewed local government unit officials about their programs and projects," Manar said.

The CPJ said their research shows that radio blocktimers like Apostol are frequently targeted in provincial areas of the Philippines.

The group also noted that at least three other journalists have been killed in the Philippines in 2012.

The Belgium-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) was also alarmed over the new media killing in the country for this year.

"The IFJ expresses deep concern over the continuing attacks on journalists in the Philippines throughout 2012," IFJ Asia-Pacific director Jacqueline Park said in a statement.

According to the CPJ, at least 72 Filipino journalists have been killed in the line of duty since 1992.

The group added that half of the 72 murdered journalists worked in the radio like Apostol. In 2011, two radio journalists were killed in direct relation to their profession.

The CPJ also said the Philippines is the second deadliest country in the world for journalists, next to Iraq.

The Philippines is also the world's third worst nation in bringing the perpetrators of media killings to justice with at least 56 unsolved media killings over the past decade, according to the group.

Apostol's body was found at least two weeks after the commemoration of the 1000th day since the Maguindanao Massacre in which 58 people, including 32 media workers, were killed.

The gruesome media killing in November 23, 2009 in Maguindanao was allegedly perpetrated by the Ampatuan family.

A patriarch of the clan, Datu Ulo Ampatuan, was the 102nd suspect to be arrested when his house was raided by authorities last week. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)
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