Senators condemn killing of veteran journalist

Published December 9, 2021, 2:59 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Two senators on Thursday denounced the murder of veteran journalist Jesus “Jess” Malabanan who was shot dead by still unidentified assailant inside his family’s small store in Calbayog City early evening of Dec. 8.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee, said Malabanan’s assassination marks another negative record on the Philippines’ ability to protect and promote the safety of journalists in the country.

“We are saddened to learn about the assassination of Jess Malabanan last night. I strongly denounced another killing of a journalist. The culture of silencing journalists, who are purveyors of truth, must be stopped!” Gordon said.

A lawyer by profession, Gordon said he is disappointed with the unabated killings of newsmen, which had risen to 88 since the Committee to Protect Journalists started tallying deaths worldwide in 1992.

“This is the 22nd killing of a journalist under the current regime. We call on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to pour their efforts in solving this dastardly crime,” he said.

Malabanan is the fifth journalist to be killed in 2021, following radio commentators Orlando Dinoy (October 30, 2021 in Davao City) and Renante Cortes (July 22, 2021 in Cebu City), who were murdered by still unidentified gunmen.

News reports said Malabanan was watching television inside his sari-sari store at around 6 p.m. on Wednesday when a lone shot rang out. He was 58 years old. His wife unable to see the gunman after seeing her husband being hit in the head.

Serving as journalist for over 30 years, Malabanan was a major contributor to Reuters’ reportage on the administration’s all-out war on drugs.

Reuters’ reporting on the Duterte government’s war on drugs earned them a Pulitzer Prize, one of the highest honors in journalism.

“Journalists should never fear for their lives for doing their jobs. A free and independent press is a key indicator of a vibrant democracy,” said Gordon, who is seeking re-election in the upcoming May 2022 elections.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao also condemned the killing of the veteran journalist.

“I condemn in the strongest possible term the assassination of veteran journalist Jesus Malabanan. This cold-blooded murder is an undeniable proof of the glaring impunity that continues to pervade in our country,” Pacquiao said, also in a statement.

“Nakakaawa po ang mga walang kalaban-laban na kagawad ng media na kung hindi iniipit sa pamamagitan ng mga harassment case ay ginagamitan sila ng karahasan (It’s heartbreaking to see that members of the media are the ones being harassed through the filing of harassment cases),” he said.

“I call on the Philippine National Police to get into the bottom of this case and bring the perpetrators to justice. Tigilan na natin ang karahasan sa mga mamamahayag (Let’s put a stop to the violence against members of the media),” said Pacquiao, a presidential aspirant in the upcoming polls.