“Today is a good day for the struggle for press freedom in the Philippines,” declared the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines as it welcomed the surrender of former police officer Guillermo Wapile, a suspect in the of Pagadian City journalist Edgar Damalerio.
The journalists’ organization reported that Wapile surrendered yesterday to the Philippine National Police in Region 9 and was presented to the media today.
“The NUJP hopes that this development can help the police in redeeming its name, which had been sullied not only by its failure to arrest Wapile since the May 2002 murder but also by the incompetence of some its officers who allowed the suspect to escape from jail,” it said in a statement.
The group also called on the PNP is to ensure the protection of two eyewitnesses and the family of Damalerio and appealed to the Department of Justice not to grant Wapile’s reported request for bail so as not to “perpetuate the fear being faced by the witnesses and family of Damalerio.”
The Damalerio murder is is just one of the more than 55 cases of journalists killed since 1986 that remains unsolved.
“We wish we could say that Wapile’s surrender will break the culture of impunity that allows the series of murders of Filipino journalists to take place. And unless the killer and mastermind/s behind the Damalerio murder are tried and convicted,
justice will remain elusive,” the NUJP said.