UNESCO condemns the killing of 3 journalists; murder rap filed vs. suspect in the death of Davao reporter

by Ricky Rillera

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay | Photo credit UNESCO/Christelle ALIX

NEW YORK – Two days after delegates to the UNESCO’s 41st General Conference re-elected the Philipines to its Executive Board on Nov. 17, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay denounced the killing of Filipino journalist Orlando Dinoy and called on authorities to bring his killers to justice.

“I condemn the murder of Orlando Dinoy. Journalists must be able to hold the powerful to account without fearing for their safety, which is why I call on the authorities to bring to trial those responsible for the murder of Orlando Dinoy,” the Director-General said. “Free and independent reporting by the media brings an indispensable contribution to democracy.”

Muhammad Zada Agra | Photo credit CPJ

Azoulay also condemned the killing of online journalist Muhammad Zada Agra in Sakhakot, in Pakistan’s District of Malakand on Nov. 8, who was shot dead by unknown assailants near his home. Agra reported on politics, corruption and criminal groups in his Citizen Journalist PK YouTube and Facebook channels. He was the fourth journalist killed in Pakistan this year.

Azoulay also urged an investigation into the killing of online journalist Buddhinath Jha, also known as Avinash Jha, whose dead body was found on the roadside in the east Indian state of Bihar on 12 November, 3 days after he had gone missing since Nov. 9.

Buddhinath Jha | Ptoto Credit CPJ

In his reporting, Jha exposed illegal medical clinics and nursing homes. Jha was reported to have received threats to his life in connection with his investigations. He was also an activist for the right to information.

Filipino journalist Dinoy covered local news, including crime, for the Newsline Philippines website and served as a volunteer news anchor for the Digos City-based Energy FM 91.1 radio.

Accordng to news reports, he was killed by unidentified gunman on Oct. 30, in Bansalan, a town in the southern province of Davao del Sur. The gunman forcibly entered Dinoy’s apartment, shot the journalist multiple times and died at the scene.

Orlando Dinoy | Photo credit PTFoMS

At the time of Dinoy’s death, Edith Caduaya of Newsline Philippines in Davao City, where Dinoy worked, condemned the brutal killing. She said they will not stop seeking justice, demanding a speedy investigation to identify the persons behind the attack.

“We appeal to the authorities to conduct a speedy investigation so that the motive and those behind the attack will be brought to justice,” said Benida Ramos of Energy FM 91.1.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also called on authorities to immediately investigate Dinoy’s killing. “Philippine authorities must thoroughly and independently investigate the killing of reporter Orlando Dinoy, determine if the attack was retaliation for Dinoy’s journalism, and bring all those involved swiftly to justice,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Until authorities show they are serious about ending impunity in the killing of journalists, these wanton attacks will continue.”

Ssspect Brandi Mercado Campaner | Photo credit PTFoMS

Meanwhile, 4 days before Azoulay condemned Dinoy’s killing, on Nov. 15, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said in a statement posted on Facebook that a case for murder has been filed at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office against Brandie Mercado Campaner alias “Bos-Bos.” Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco announced that Campaner was identified by several eyewitnesses as the suspected gunman who shot and killed Dinoy.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has launched an extensive manhunt in the entire Mindanao for the capture of Campaner.

Egco said the Task Force has officially declared that the Dinoy murder case is not related to Dinoy’s work as a journalist. In an earlier statement posted on Facebook on Oct. 30, while investigating multiple possible motives for the attack, the Task Force quoted Caduaya as saying that Dinoy “was not a hard-hitting broadcaster or reporter and, as far as she knows, did not have any personal enemies.” The Task Force also said that Cadauya also revealed that Dinoy had “an altercation with another person” prior to the attack. The statement added that people had urged Dinoy to run for vice-mayor of Bansalan.

National Police Chief General Guillermo Eleazar said he ordered an investigation into Dinoy’s killing, CNN Philippines reported. Police Major Peter Glenn Ipong, the town’s local police chief, told Agence France-Presse that police were looking into Dinoy’s journalism as a possible motive.

According to CPJ’s 2021 Global Impunity Index, the Philippines ranked seventh, a measure of countries worldwide where journalists are killed and the perpetrators go free. It also noted 13 unsolved media killings from 11 in 2020, adding that between 1992 and 2021, 85 journalists were “murdered”.

UNESCO promotes the safety of journalists through global awareness-raising, capacity building and a range of actions, notably in the framework of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

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