Foreign embassies: Jumalon killing attack on press freedom
MANILA, Philippines — Several foreign diplomats and embassies denounced on Monday the killing of radio broadcaster Juan Jumalon, calling it an attack on a free press, as they also urged local authorities to bring those behind the crime to justice.
“We call for a thorough investigation into this heinous act and the swift delivery of justice to ensure that such incidents are not swept under the rug,” the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines said in a statement.
“This attack on press freedom is not just an attack on one individual but an assault on the fundamental pillar of democracy,” it added, saying it was “deeply saddened and alarmed by the tragic murder.”
British Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), expressed shock over the killing and called on local authorities to “bring the perpetrators to justice promptly.”
“A free media is the cornerstone of democracy. Journalists must be able to do their job free of violence,” Beaufils said.
In a separate post, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko echoed a statement by President Marcos that “attacks on journalists will not be tolerated,” stressing that “[these] can threaten the essence of democracy.”
Key to democracy
The Swiss Embassy, on the other hand, urged all stakeholders, including the Philippine government and civil society, “to work together to create an environment where journalists can carry out their essential work without fear or intimidation.”
“In the Philippines, as in Switzerland, the protection of press freedom is crucial for a thriving democracy… together, we must defend press freedom as it is vital for a free and democratic society,” it added.
The British and Dutch embassies reposted on their respective social media pages a statement from the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC), a group of journalists from 50 countries, condemning Jumalon’s murder.
The MFC noted that the blatant attack happened days after the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on Nov. 2.
Citing data from the Committee to Protect Journalists that about 78 percent of journalist killings worldwide go unpunished, the MFC said it welcomed the commitment made by the Philippine government and law enforcement agencies to go after the perpetrators.
It encouraged the government “to take further actions to create a safe environment for journalists to carry out their work without fear for their lives and safety” and “to address impunity for crimes against them.”
Jumalon, known to his listeners as DJ Johnny Walker, was shot dead on-air on Sunday morning as he was broadcasting from his studio located in his house in Calamba town, Misamis Occidental province. His death was watched in real-time by those tuned in to his program as it was being streamed live on Facebook.
The Commission on Human Rights, which announced on Monday that it would conduct its own investigation into the killing, said it was aware of the “chilling effect of this violent attack that continues to make the country a dangerous place for journalists.”
It urged the government to conduct an urgent investigation and arrest the perpetrator, emphasizing the importance of preventing impunity in such cases.
At the House of Representatives, Speaker Martin Romualdez said that Congress would continue fighting for press freedom without fear or harm as he stressed that any attack or violence against the media was “senseless, unacceptable, and deeply troubling.”
Sen. Grace Poe, for her part, called on the police and military to launch a crackdown on loose firearms amid suspicions that these were being used in extrajudicial killings.
She and two other senators condemned Jumalon’s murder, with Poe calling it “barbaric” and out of place in a civilized society.
For Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., “media killings [were] becoming more brazen” with killers no longer afraid of the law.
Sen. Mark Villar, meanwhile, said that Jumalon’s death highlighted the need for his Senate Bill No. 2335, which seeks to provide increased protection for media through additional insurance coverage.
In a phone interview, “running priest” Robert Reyes also condemned the killing as he called on journalists to stay vigilant and united “in manning the fort to protect press freedom.”