MANILA Dec 21 A Philippine provincial newspaper
publisher has been shot dead after writing a column alleging
official negligence over a recently discovered methamphetamine
laboratory, in the first killing of a journalist during the
country's war on drugs.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)
condemned Monday's murder of Larry Que, publisher of a news site
on the island of Catanduanes, and said it "challenged" President
Rodrigo Duterte to find the perpetrators and utilise a special
task force he set up to protect media.
The Philippines enjoys one of Asia's most liberal media
environments, and one of the most dangerous for journalists.
Scores have been killed in the past three decades, with
radio broadcasters who cover provincial politics among the most
common victims. Investigations of killings have often been
The NUJP said Que had run Catanduanes News Now, a new
publication, for only two weeks before he was shot in the head
outside his workplace. He also owned an insurance firm and
previously ran for local office.
His article, according to NUJP, suggested local officials
were negligent when a laboratory was illegally set up to make
"shabu", a methamphetamine that Duterte has vowed to wipe out,
along with anyone selling it.
Duterte signed an administrative order in October to create
a task force of ministers, police, defence and justice officials
to protect media, investigate attacks on media workers and
create an oversight body to scrutinise probes.
The NUJP said the presidential panel should be put to work
to find Que's killers. It criticised the government for its
approach towards media and for what it said was a tendency to
accuse journalists of distorting the president's words.
"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," the NUJP said.
Duterte's office has often issued statements that contradict
the mercurial president's public remarks. After some of his most
controversial comments, his communications team has said his
words should be taken seriously, but not literally.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the government
condemned violence against journalists and called for a thorough
investigation into Que's death.
(Reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)