Radio commentator shot dead in broad daylight

New York, October 19, 2004—A gunman fatally shot a radio commentator this morning in Surigao del Sur Province on the southern island of Mindanao, according to local and international news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating to determine whether the murder of Eldy Sablas, also known as Eldy Gabinales, was connected to his work as a journalist.

The unidentified assailant shot Sablas three times from behind at about 10 a.m. as the commentator rode a three-wheeled motorcycle away from a supermarket in the town of Tandag, 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of Manila, according to news reports.

Local journalists noted that Sablas, who hosted “Singgit sa mga Lungsuranon” (“Cry of the People”) on Radio DXJR-FM, was a strident critic of the drug trade and illegal gambling. Regional Police Chief Rene Elumbaring told The Associated Press that police were investigating the murder.

According to CPJ research, five other journalists have been killed for their work in the Philippines so far this year, more than in any other country except Iraq. Among the journalists slain was Eliseo Binoya, another Mindanao radio broadcaster who was known for his pointed political commentary. Binoya was also gunned down in broad daylight, on June 17. Forty-six journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since the country became a democracy in 1986.