New York, February 11, 2004—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the murder of journalist Ruel Endrinal, a commentator on radio station DZRC in Legazpi City, Albay Province in the eastern Philippines.

At about 6:20 a.m. today, two unidentified gunmen shot Endrinal as he was leaving his house for the radio station. The local police chief, Jaime Lazar, told journalists that the assailants shot Endrinal in the foot, and then continued shooting him in the head and body as he fell.

Endrinal hosted a political commentary show on DZRC in which he spoke out against local politicians and criminal gangs, said the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). He also published a regional newspaper Bicol Metro News.

Police do not have any suspects in the case. However, according to CMFR, police are holding two witnesses who can identify the assailants and who saw the gunmen in the area in the days prior to the murder. Endrinal’s wife and colleagues said that he had recently received death threats.

Since democracy was restored in the Philippines in 1986, at least 40 journalists have been assassinated for their work, including five in 2003, according to CPJ records. No one has been prosecuted for any of these murders.

“CPJ mourns the death of our colleague Ruel Endrinal and calls on Philippine authorities to investigate and prosecute his murder as swiftly as possible,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “The routine assassinations of journalists in the Philippines must no longer be treated with impunity.”