Arroyo promises to curb violence against media President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has set up a Press Freedom Fund to help find those responsible for the deaths of at least five journalists this year. The 5 million peso ($715,000) fund's launch comes after the Paris-based Reporters without Borders called the Philippines one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists. The unwelcome international attention prompted Mrs Arroyo to summon her top security officials and the heads of private business groups to an anti-crime summit at the weekend. She hinted at stiffer penalties for anyone using a firearm when committing a crime. There are an estimated 450,000 unregistered firearms in the Philippines, despite several government crackdowns. In launching the programme yesterday, Mrs Arroyo said: 'We are gaining ground in getting the killers of journalists ... I have tasked my government, our administration, to leave no stone unturned in tracking down these cold-blooded killers.' The money would be used to reward informants, for manhunt operations and 'to assuage the pain' of murdered journalists' families. A 1 million peso bounty offered by Mrs Arroyo in 2003 to solve the murders of journalists has remained untouched. Inday Espina-Varona, secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, thanked Mrs Arroyo and Congress for the money, saying it acknowledged 'the crisis the local media is facing'. But she stressed it was the government's 'political will' that would turn the tide, since many of the 68 journalists killed in the country since democracy was restored in 1986 'were believed killed by powerful and rich individuals and groups involved in crime and corruption'. 'They continue to murder and harass because they have gotten away with it,' she said. The man appointed by Mrs Arroyo to find the killers disagreed. Local Government Secretary Angelo Reyes said not all assaults on journalists were attacks on press freedom. Mr Reyes said many journalists behaved unethically and irresponsibly. He said the weekend summit had concluded that the rise in crime was a social phenomenon, not the government's fault. To reduce the number of journalists being murdered, a lawmaker recommended harsher penalties for libel, to encourage court suits instead of hired assassins. The police have admitted that between January and last month, crimes such as murder, theft and rape have risen to 15,221 cases, from 13,774 cases during the same period last year, a 10.5 per cent rise.