In the Philippines, one journalist killed, another wounded in a shooting spree

New York, June 25, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Philippine government to quickly investigate and bring to justice the killer of Vicente Sumalpong, an announcer for the government-owned Radyo ng Bayan (People’s Radio) network. Sumalpong was with two companions when a gunman attacked them this morning in the town of Bongao in Tawi-Tawi province, a small island south of Mindanao.

Sumalpong was shot five times and died on the way to a local hospital, according to media reports. Fellow broadcaster Vema Antham and Sumalpong’s nephew, Roilan Borja, were wounded in the attack. Investigators did not immediately determine whether Sumalpong’s killing was related to his work, according to news reports quoting Police Superintendent Joel Goltiao.

“Vicente Sumalpong’s name must not be allowed to join the long list of Philippine journalists whose deaths have gone unsolved,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “The government must move quickly to find and prosecute those who feel they can kill journalists with impunity.”

CPJ’s research shows that 32 journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in the Philippines since 1992, making it the world’s fifth deadliest nation for journalists during that time period. The impunity rate in these cases is well over 90 percent, CPJ research shows.

Three Philippine journalists were killed in connection with their reporting last year, putting the nation on par with Afghanistan as Asia’s deadliest nation for reporters in 2006.