MANILA: A Philippine radio reporter has been shot dead, police and colleagues said yesterday, in the latest attack in a country known for dozens of unsolved killings of journalists.
Jose Bernardo, 44, was shot repeatedly by one of two suspects aboard a motorcycle outside a Manila restaurant late Saturday and died later in hospital, police said. He had told his family he was meeting an unnamed person, according to authorities.
No suspects have been arrested in the attack, which also wounded a restaurant worker, and authorities said they were checking whether it was linked to Bernardo’s work as a reporter. “We denounce this killing regardless of the motive. It shows that there is still a culture of impunity at work,” the Philippines’ National Press Club president Joel Sy Egco told AFP.
Bernardo was a reporter and broadcaster for Manila’s DWBL radio station, as well as a reporter for DWIZ, another station in the capital, Egco added. Staff at both stations did not have any immediate comment on the attack. “It’s possible the attack was work-related or due to a personal quarrel,” chief inspector Rodelio Marcelo told DZMM radio. “We expect to collect CCTV footage in the area and for witnesses to come forward to testify,” he said.
Despite a relatively long history of press freedom, the Asian nation is among the world’s most dangerous places for journalists, with powerful figures sometimes resorting to killing critics, knowing they may not face punishment. Four journalists were murdered in the country in August and September, according to media rights monitors.
Since 1992, 77 journalists and two media support workers have been killed in the Philippines for their work, according to New York-based watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists. It said 52 other journalists were murdered in the country for unclear reasons.
One of the world’s deadliest attacks against journalists took place in the Philippines in 2009, when 32 journalists were among 58 people killed by a warlord clan intent on stopping a rival’s election challenge. More than one hundred people are on trial for the massacre, with the verdicts expected next year. —AFP