Philippines publisher killed after article on island drugs lab
MANILA – ReutersA 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 the Dec. 19 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 utilize 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 inconclusive.
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, defense and justice officials to protect media, investigate attacks on media workers and create an oversight body to scrutinize probes.
The NUJP said the presidential panel should be put to work to find Que’s killers. It criticized the government for its approach towards media and for what it said was a tendency to accuse journalists of distorting the president’s words