Philippines: Media personality murdered

The shooting of Alfredo Velarde is the latest of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao, where mining interests seek further influence.

Alfredo Velarde, "Brigada News" newspaper manager in Mindanao was killed on November 11 in General Santos City  in the Philippines by a killer who shot him at close range. Velarde, 45, managed the distribution of the newspaper, in a deeply-rooted and widespread publishing company in Mindanao, which also has a radio and a TV in the southern  region of the Philippines.

The reasons for the murder are as yet unknown. Human rights groups have denounced it as "yet another extra-judicial killing in Mindanao. "  Fourteen of the 32 journalists and media operators killed in the massacre on November 23, 2009 linked to the clan "Ampatuan" were from General Santos. The list of unpunished killings in Mindanao includes lawyers, human rights activists, missionaries, religious, trade union leaders: among the latter, the PIME missionary Father Fausto Tentorio, killed on October 17.

 The Father Albert Alejo SJ, Director of the Institute for "Dialogue in Mindanao" at the University of Davao, said "We live a very difficult time. We are very concerned because there is a serious lack of respect for the rule of law and the forces that should enforce it. It seems that the central government has forgotten about Mindanao and the situation is getting worse: corruption, crime impunity takes hold, peace and development move away".

According to the priest, are several factors that affect the situation. "The peace process with communist groups and Islamist insurgents has stalled and the government's approach seems only to be the military's, there is a tendency to divide themselves into factions, both in the government, and in these groups, fragmentation does not help, a parallel economy is growing that finds benefits due to the high rate of conflict, and to the trafficking of weapons and other illegal trafficking".

 A movement called "Justice for Father Tentorio" reported the matter of the long trail of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines to public attention. In the past year, under the government of Benigno Aquino, there were at least 60. In eight years of Gloria Arroyo's government, 1,118 unjustified executions were carried out. 

Source: FIDES

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