NorthCot journalists wear black in candle-lighting rites

The journalists belonging to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), lighted 50 candles for each of the 50 journalists killed during the administration of President Arroyo.

"As we light these candles, we pray for strength to continue our cause to defend press freedom," the journalists said.

Hernani Pastolero, 64, publisher of the Lightning Courier Weekly  was the latest victim in the string of journalists killed when two gunmen shot him in his hometown in Sultan Kudarat last Feb. 19.

The NUJP said 50 journalists have already been murdered since 2001 when President Arroyo took power.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Philippines and Afghanistan had the highest journalists killed last year. The two countries ranked only behind Iraq, where 32 journalists were killed last year.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said the Philippines and Afghanistan had the highest journalist deaths in the region last year. With three deaths each, the two countries ranked globally only behind Iraq, where 32 journalists were killed last year.

State Prosecutor Al Calica, chief of the anti-terrorism taskforce of the Department of Justice in Southwestern Mindanao, said several witnesses to the double-slaying of journalists husband and wife George and Macel Alave-Vigo have applied to the government witness protection program.

Calica said he hoped that the murderers of the Vigo couple will be brought  to justice with the witnesses under government protection.

He said bringing the murderers to justice will help brought an end to the spate of killings of journalists in the country.

George and Macel were gunned down while on their way to their house in Kidapawan City last June. 19, 2006. Police have yet to catch their killers.

"The killings seem to have consent; It is like killing with a license. And
because there seems to be consent, the killings remain unsolved until today,
" the NUJP in Kidapawan City said.

The journalists went to DXND auditorium where they had a short program aired
by local radio stations. (Malu Manar/MindaNews)

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