Radio commentator slain in the Philippines

New York, August 7, 2008—Motorcycle-riding gunmen killed radio commentator Martin Roxas today in the second brutal shooting of a broadcaster in the Philippines this week, according to local and international news reports.

Two men shot Roxas in the back as he drove his motorcycle from DYVR station in Roxas City, on the country’s central Panay island, where he worked as a program director and had just concluded his midday show, according to news reports. Police said Roxas died soon afterward at a local hospital from a gunshot wound to his spine, the reports said. Roxas covered political issues in his show and police are investigating his recent coverage. Agence France-Presse quoted a manager at the station’s parent network as saying that Roxas had reported recently on a dispute between two local politicians, but did not elaborate.

Dennis Cuesta, a General Santos City radio commentator on Mindanao island in the southern Philippines, remained hospitalized today in a coma after suffering serious head injuries when gunmen on motorcycles shot him Monday. Both Cuesta and Roxas’ stations are affiliates of the national broadcasting corporation Radio Mindanao Network. There is no apparent connection between the two shootings.

“Two attacks against outspoken radio commentators in the space of a week is of grave concern to us and our colleagues in the Philippines,” said Elisabeth Witchel, CPJ’s Impunity Campaign Coordinator. “For nearly two years, we saw a lull in journalist killings. These two attacks, and the murder of columnist Benefredo Acabal in April, are an alarming sign that violence against Philippine journalists may be on the rise. We send our condolences to Roxas’ family and urge authorities to bring justice swiftly.”

Police told reporters they are questioning two suspects in Thursday’s shooting, local news reports said. Roxas told his colleagues that a group of men attacked him last week, news reports said, but it was not clear if the attack was related to his work or to his murder today.

For more information about journalist murders in the Philippines, see CPJ’s impunity campaign.