The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the 14 October murder of Roy Bagtikan Gallego, a radio commentator, and called for a thorough investigation into the case.
“I condemn the murder of Roy Bagtikan Gallego,” the Director-General said. “It is essential that the authorities conduct a thorough investigation into this crime, which affects the whole of society’s ability to enjoy freedom of expression, a basic human right. Impunity for those who use gun power to silence debate and possible dissent must be stopped for the Philippines to benefit from the essential contribution of free and independent media to democracy and rule of law.”
Roy Bagtikan Gallego was shot in Lianga town in the southern Philippines as he was about to start a new programme on 92.7 Smile FM San Francisco. Gallego was also a Manobo community leader. He had campaigned against mining operators claiming that their activities violated the rights of indigenous people in the region.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), two radio journalists have been killed in “direct relation to their work,” in 2011. The CPJ is also investigating the deaths of at least two other journalists to determine if their murders were related to their professional activities.
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”