Philippines

Vergel Bico

04 September 2013

The 40-year old was the second journalist murdered in a week in Philippines. Vergel Bico, editor of Bandera Pilipino based in Calapan City, the capital of the western province of Oriental Mindoro, was shot dead by two gunmen on the afternoon of Wednesday. Police reports say two gunmen followed Bico from a village and shot him. Bico was rushed to Maria Estrella Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

If work-related, Bico's killing would bring to 158 the number of journalists killed in the line of duty since 1986 and to 17 the number of those killed under the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III. The previous week, on the evening of Thursday August 29, radio broadcaster Fernando Solijon was killed by two unidentified gunmen in Iligan City in northern Mindanao.

The IFJ’s Asia Pacific regional office calls on Philippines’ authorities to thoroughly investigate the murders of Bico and Solijon.

“Sadly, as we have seen demonstrated in the Philippines over the past three decades, there is an unwillingness for Filipino authorities to properly investigate extrajudicial killings and the murder of journalists in particular. The dreadful culture of impunity that has descended on the Philippines means that all too often not only do the gunmen who carried out these murders go unpunished but those who paid them to do the deed are also getting away with murder,” IFJ Asia Pacific said.

The IFJ has repeatedly urged President Aquino to step in and ensure proper investigations are carried out and that the perpetrators are brought to justice swiftly.

In November last year, on the third anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre that killed 58 people including 32 journalists, the IFJ wrote to the president urging action. (http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/letter-to-president-benigno-s-aquino-iii-ampatuan-massacre-why-no-action ).

The IFJ has received no response to its many calls for action and the targeted killing of Filipino journalists continues.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries