CHR probes ambush-slay of Sorsogon online journalist
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sent a team to Bicol Region to help investigate the killing of an online journalist from Sorsogon, while urging the government to quickly resolve the incident.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement on Thursday that the killing of online commentator Jobert Bercasio last Monday shows that there is a growing trend of harassment against media practitioners.
Observers like the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines believe that if Bercasio’s killing is work-related, he is the 17th media practitioner killed under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
“The Commission on Human Rights condemns the killing of Balangibog TV online show host in Sorsogon City, Monday night by unidentified assailants […] This recent killing illustrates the growing trend of harassment and violence perpetrated against media workers in the country,” De Guia said.
“CHR strongly urges the government to act on this case to attain justice for the deceased and to ensure that further steps will be taken to ensure the safety of our journalists and media workers,” she added.
Reports from the Sorsogon City Police Station said that Bercasio was riding his motorcycle inside Seabreeze Homes Subdivision in Sorsogon City’s Barangay Cabid-an on Monday evening when two motorcycle riding assailants gunned him down.
De Guia noted the state must ensure that media practitioners are safeguarded to ensure that free speech is not restricted.
“The freedom of expression which includes the freedom of the press is a constitutionally protected right which guarantees the right of individuals to publish or utter freely without previous restraint,” she said.
“It is the basic foundation of a democratic country and free media. The continuing harassment and killings of media professional is concerning as it hampers the publication of information depriving the Filipino citizenry of access to much-needed information while creating a continuing culture of impunity,” she added.
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