ORLANDO DE GUZMAN (BBC)
It is with great sadness that I inform you of the murder of two great journalists, George Vigo and his wife Macel. They were gunned down near their home in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, in Mindanao, the Philippines on June 19. Both were very good friends and they will be dearly missed.
The moment I met them back in 2001 I was impressed by the courage and vigor in which they reported local news. In my first trip to Mindanao they helped me uncover the truth behind the formation of right-wing Christian militias that were responsible for so much violence in their province. In subsequent trips back to Mindanao the couple helped me report the plight of refugees and villagers caught in military operations against Muslim rebels. George also connected me with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front back in 2003, which led to a PBS Frontline/World documentary about the rebel movement. In 2004 he helped me produce a BBC documentary about another insurgency in Mindanao, the New People's Army.
George and Macel were co-founders of a local journalist group, the Federation of Reporters for Empowerment and Equality. Together they published a weekly tabloid that has in the past earned the anger of local politicians.
George and Macel's no-nonsense approach to their work won them many friends. They were never afraid to speak the truth, even though they were clearly aware of the dangers they faced. I took comfort in the idea that they were perhaps invincible. They were activists as much as they were journalists. Their concern for the people around them led them not just to write stories, but also be deeply involved in the struggle for justice and peace in their war-torn community. George and Macel were true heroes for me.
Over the years we developed a wonderful friendship. Last time I was with them was during their youngest child's christening, where I had the honor to be his godfather. They left behind 4 children.
Please join us in condemning the politically-motivated killings that have claimed the lives of so many Filipino journalists. At the same time my immediate concern is for their four surviving children.
I hope to create an emergency fund to help their children get through this difficult time. Those who are willing to help with a financial donation can contact me directly via this email account (donate AT orlandodeguzman.com).
Thank you and may the peaceful struggle that George and Macel started continue.