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September 9, 2019 - Updated on September 10, 2019

Arson attack on popular Philippine tabloid’s printing house

Some of the damages caused by the fire that struck Abante News Group’s printing plant are irreversible (photo: Gil Cabacungan / Abante).
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by today’s arson attack on the presses where one of the most widely-read Philippine tabloids is printed, and calls for an independent investigation to identify those responsible for this intolerable attack on media freedom.

This blow to the dissemination of news and information was perpetrated by four hooded gunmen who forced their way into the Abante Tonite’s printing presses in Parañaque City, on the southern outskirts of the capital, Manila, in the early hours of today.

 

After threatening and inflicting slight injuries on security guards, they poured gasoline over piles of newly-printed newspapers, set fire to them, and then left on motorcycles, RSF has learned.

 

“This attack on the core of press production is targeted at the entire journalistic profession in the Philippines,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “We therefore urge the Presidential Task Force on Media Security to order a thorough, independent investigation to identify those responsible for this assault on press freedom. The prevailing impunity for this kind of violation can no longer be tolerated.”

 

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous Asian countries for journalists. The latest fatal victim was Eduardo Dizon, a radio presenter who was shot five times at close range as he drove home on the southern island of Mindanao on 10 July.

 

In November, the Philippine media will mark the tenth anniversary of a massacre in Maguindanao province (on Mindanao island) in which 32 journalists were killed. The presumed instigators of this massacre – members of the Ampatuan clan, a family that wields a great deal of influence in this province – are still unpunished

 

The Philippines is ranked 134th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index