New York, September 29, 2004-Gunmen shot and killed a tabloid reporter early this morning in Bataan province, in the central Luzon region, according to local and international news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating the circumstances surrounding the murder to determine if it was related to the journalist’s reporting.
The reporter, identified as either Romeo or Romy Binungcal in press accounts, worked as a correspondent for two national Manila-based tabloids-Remate and Bulgar-and was the former editor of the local Mt. Samat Weekly Forum. Binungcal was riding home on his motorcycle when unidentified gunmen fired on him five times at close range, killing him instantly, according to Agence France-Presse.
Police told local reporters that there is no known motive for the killing, but that they have launched an investigation. Rodolfo Mendoza, head of Task Force Newsmen, a police group investigating journalists’ murders, told The International Herald Tribune that Binungcal was a businessman in addition to working as a journalist.
According to CPJ research, four other journalists have been killed for their work in the Philippines so far this year, more than in any other country except Iraq. Forty-five journalists have been slain in the Philippines since the country became a democracy in 1986.