Gordon condemns killing of Pampanga-based journalist
Senator Richard J. Gordon today denounced the murder of veteran journalist Jesus “Jess” Malabanan who was shot dead by still unidentified assailants inside his family’s small store in Calbayog City, Samar early evening of Dec. 8.
Gordon, who chairs the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee, said that the Malabanan's assassination casts another stain in the dirty record of the country in terms of journalists' safety.
“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!” he said.
According to news reports, 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 did not see the gunman but saw her husband lay dead after being hit in the head.
Serving as journalist for over 30 years, Malabanan was reportedly a major contributor to Reuters' reportage on the administration's all-out war on drugs. Their reporting earned a Pulitzer Prize, one of the highest honors in journalism.
Gordon, a lawyer by profession, was 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 to pour their efforts in solving this dastardly crime,” he remarked.
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 was murdered by riding-in-tandem assassins.
Other journalists killed this year alone were John Heredia (May 2, 2021 in Pilar, Capiz) and Yentez Quintoy (June 4, 2021 in General Santos), who were both killed by riding-in-tandem hit men, as well.
The tally of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) range from 17-23 killings since Duterte rose into power in 2016.
According to CPJ’s 2021 Global Impunity Index, the Philippines remains to be the 7th deadliest country in the world for journalists in terms of unsolved killings.
“Journalists should never fear for their lives for doing their jobs. A free and independent press is a key indicator of a vibrant democracy,” Gordon pointed out.