Cebu City journalist gunned down, the latest in a deadly year

New York, November 29, 2004—Allan Dizon, a photographer for the English-language newspaper The Freeman and a correspondent for the local tabloid Banat, was shot and killed Saturday night in Cebu City. CPJ is seeking to determine whether the journalist’s murder was related to his work.

Dizon, 31, was shot in the head and chest near a car wash in Cebu City in central Philippines, about 350 miles (565 kilometers) south of Manila, according to local news reports. The unidentified gunman fired at point-blank range, and shot again as Dizon tried to run away. The journalist died just before 8:30 p.m. at Cebu City Medical Center, according to news reports.

Police have ascribed no motive in the killing, although local sources told CPJ that the murder may be related to Dizon’s reporting on illegal gambling.

Dizon’s wife, Amelina, told local reporters that the journalist had not received any threats before his death. Colleagues said Dizon appeared preoccupied before leaving his office, and police are investigating text messages on the journalist’s cell phone indicating that he had planned to meet someone he knew at the car wash, according to news reports.

In the days following Dizon’s murder, the offices of The Freeman received two phone calls threatening other journalists at the newspaper, according to news reports.

The slaying comes amid the deadliest year for Filipino journalists in more than a decade, according to CPJ research. At least seven journalists have been killed in the Philippines in relation to their work this year, and CPJ is investigating the motives behind two other slayings in addition to the Dizon murder.

Worldwide, only war-ravaged Iraq has been more deadly for journalists this year than the Philippines. National Police Chief Edgardo Aglipay issued a deadline of seven days for Cebu police to solve the Dizon case. No one has been convicted in the murders of 47 journalists since the Philippines became a democracy in 1986.