NUJP Statement on the murder of Catanduanes publisher

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
December 20, 2016

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the murder of Larry Que, publisher of Catanduanes News Now, and challenge authorities, particularly the Presidential Task Force on Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Members of the Media, to immediately solve his killing, the first of a media person under the Duterte administration.

According to the NUJP’s Catanduanes chapter, Que was shot in the head by a gunman as he was about to enter the building that houses his insurance office late Monday morning and died around 1:45 a.m.on Tuesday.

His murder came after his column in Catanduanes News Now, of which he was publisher for only two weeks, in which he criticized what he called local officials’ alleged negligence, which allowed the setting up on the island-province of a recently raided shabu laboratory that authorities claimed was the “biggest” so far discovered in the country.

The NUJP-Catanduanes reports that, aside from Que’s murder, at least one other journalist, broadcaster Jinky Tabor, who acted as a witness to the raid on the laboratory, has also received threats.

These have created a climate of fear within the local media community.

It should be stressed that the murder of Que is not the first assault on journalists under the current administration.

On the day of Duterte’s inauguration, motorcycle-riding gunmen shot and wounded Saturnino “Jan” Estanio of Radio Mindanao Network’s dxRS in Surigao City and his 12-year old son. A bystander was also slightly injured in the incident.

And last month, Pangasinan journalist Virgilio Maganes survived an attempt on his life by gunmen who apparently attempted to disguise the hit as drug-related. They left behind a cardboard placard that said: “Wag nyo akung tularan drug posher ako (sic).”

Thus far, we have to hear back from authorities despite the creation of task forces to investigate these thankfully botched assassination attempts.

It has not helped that Duterte, who has shown a total aversion to criticism, and some of his officials have time and again been openly hostile towards journalists and the media as a whole, with his loyal supporters taking up the cue and heaping insults, curses and even threats through social media on several of our colleagues.

Nor has it helped that an army of trolls and social media operators are waging a campaign of lies through fake news sites that they tout as their “people’s alternative” to “biased” media or that Duterte’s spokesmen are forever having to explain his statements and blaming media for failing to see beyond what they insist is “hyperbole” or, alternately, to apply “creative imagination.”

We call on this administration to walk the talk and prove its professed respect for press freedom, not only by quickly solving these brazen assaults on press freedom but, just as importantly, by ending its penchant of falsely blaming media for deliberately misinterpreting its often inconsistent and incoherent messages and instead working on making its communications crystal-clear.


Dabet Panelo
Secretary General
NUJP Hotline 09175155991