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Death Of Mindanews Photoeditor Big Loss

Death Of Mindanews Photoeditor Big Loss For Journalism

MANILA (NUJP/Pacific Media Watch): The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) shares the deep grief and outrage of our Mindanawon colleagues in the senseless murder of Gene Boyd Lumawag, 25, photo editor of Mindanews. We also extend our condolences and sympathy to Gene's family and friends.

Gene's death on 12 November 2004 raises to nine the number of Filipino journalists killed this year. He is the 58th media practitioner slain since 1986. For all the lip service paid by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration to press freedom, this latest outrage just rams home the truth of the Philippines being among the world's most dangerous places for journalists.

The NUJP demands swift investigation and action on Gene's murder. According to Mindanews editor, Carolyn Arguillas, they were in Jolo to cover the eidl fitr, the celebration marking the end of the Holy month of Ramadhan. Gene had just stepped out of their lodgings to take pictures of Jolo's sunset when he was felled by a single gunshot from a 45 handgun, said Arguillas in a Mindanews report. Covering a religious event, wanting to capture the beauty of nature - this juxtaposition only heightens the total insanity of the crime.

Arguillas would later quote Army commanders as claiming Gene was murdered by suspected members of the "urban terrorist group" alegedly of the Abu Sayyaf. We urge the military and the Philippine National
Police's Task Force Newsman to dig deeper into the roots of the incident.

Offhand, Gene's colleagues say the Abu Sayyaf or any other Moro rebel group had no reason to want him dead. He has covered the Muslim insurgency with professionalism and had just been part of a team that
featured the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Also, we must point out that the Abu Sayyaf has been known to kidnap, but not murder, journalists.

There have been reports, still unconfirmed by Mindanews, that their Jolo coverage was also in lieu of an investigation into local corruption. While the government has ample reason to hate the Abu Sayyaf, hasty pin-pointing of blame could withhold justice from Gene and his family. If indeed the suspects were members of the Abu Sayyaf, authorities should explain why the group had targeted Gene for murder,
and try to investigate if the suspects were working for other groups or individuals.

Mindanews has also reported another threat incident against newsmen, just a day before Gene's death. Reporter Jeoffrey Maitem said soldiers threatened ABS-CBN reporter Paul Palacio and his cameraman Loloy Cagayan with bursts of gunfire while the latter were covering an alleged collection of "toll fees" among dump trucks drivers hauling aggregates at the quarry site near at the headquarters of the Army's
Sixth Infantry Division in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao.

Mindanews reported: "The incident occurred as members of the Malaysian-led peace monitors are sending off their visiting superiors -- Brunei Royal Armed Forces Gen. Pehin Dato Lailaraja and Malaysian Army chief Gen. Dato Sri Abdulazis Hadji Jainal -- at the Cotabato Awang Airport, some 600 meters away from the site of incident."

NUJP urges new Army chief Lt. Gen. Generoso Senga and 6ID chief, Maj. Gen. Raul Relano, to investigate the matter and punish the culprits. These two new cases only highlight how journalists and, indeed, citizens in general become more vulnerable with the breakdown of law and order in the provinces.

http://www.mindanews.com/culture/gallery/geneboyd.shtml

+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE
http://www.pmw.c2o.org

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

(c)1996-2004 Copyright - All rights reserved. >+++niuswire

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH ONLINE
http://www.pmw.c2o.org

PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

(c)1996-2004 Copyright - All rights reserved.

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