November 29, 2000
His Excellency Joseph Ejercito Estrada
President, Republic of the Philippines
Via Facsimile: +63-2-735-6152
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the murder of Olimpio Jalapit, Jr., a radio broadcaster killed on November 17 in Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur. We urge Your Excellency to ensure that the investigation into this murder is conducted in a thorough and impartial manner, so that Jalapit's killers may be brought to justice.
An unidentified gunman riding tandem on a motorcycle shot Jalapit, 34, in the back of the head at 11:20 a.m., as the journalist was leaving a parent-teacher association meeting. Jalapit had received numerous death threats over the years, but the final warning came as a text message on his cellular phone at 9 a.m. on the morning of the murder: "I will kill you today," it said, according to a translation published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
As host of the local radio station dxPR's top-rated morning program, "Lampornas," Jalapit was Pagadian City's leading media personality and had a reputation as a hard-hitting commentator who did not spare the powerful in his critiques.
CPJ sources fear that Jalapit was murdered as a result of his frank on-air discussions of sensitive issues such as political corruption, illegal gambling operations, the drugs trade, and armed separatist movements in the southern Philippines.
Just days before his murder, Jalapit was suspended from hosting "Lampornas" for one week, beginning November 13, after Environment Secretary Antonio Cerilles and his wife, Rep. Aurora Cerilles, registered a complaint about the show with the Manila headquarters of Radio Mindanao Network, of which dxPR is an affiliate. The journalist was on his way to a meeting with Rep. Cerilles when he was killed. Secretary and Rep. Cerilles have both denied any involvement in the murder.
As a nonpartisan organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of our colleagues around the world, CPJ respectfully urges Your Excellency to do everything in your power to ensure that the inquiry into Olimpio Jalapit's murder is pursued vigorously. We would like to be kept informed about the progress of this investigation.
Ann K. Cooper