Press Release
January 5, 2013

Legarda Condemns Human Rights Violations
Against Media, Environmental Advocates

Senator Loren Legarda condemned the reported human rights violations against members of the media and environmental advocates that have plagued the country for years.

"Since 2001, according to a report of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), 56 environmental advocates have been killed. This number includes the murders of forest guard Elpidio "Jojo" Malinao, Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tenorio, Dr. Gerry Ortega, Leonard Co, and Willem Geertman, and Gilbert Paborada. As we welcomed the New Year, Alfredo Almueda, Quirino province community environment and natural resources officer (CENRO), was killed when he responded to a tip that a truckload of illegal lumber will be transported out of his area," Legarda noted.

"On the other hand, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that 73 journalists have been confirmed killed due to work-related causes in the Philippines since 1992. It is highly alarming that these human rights violations continue to befall such hardworking individuals who offer so much of their lives to society," she said.

Legarda has been pushing for the passage of a bill to qualify the killing of members of broadcast and print media in the performance of their duties as a crime of murder. The bill is presently pending second reading at the Senate.

The Senator, a former journalist and staunch environmentalist, expressed her greatest sympathies towards the families of the murdered journalists, media practitioners, and environmental advocates, noting that they should be honored for their undeterred dedication to their work.

"The numerous cases of journalists and media practitioners killed in the line of duty have tarnished our country's state of press freedom, supposedly one of the freest in the world. Meanwhile, forest protection and forest law enforcement in the country have almost become a 'mission impossible' considering the daunting limitations that impede the actions and undermine the morale of our forest law officers. They are our partners in aspiring for a better society, and they must be given due protection," Legarda concluded.

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