Motorcycle-riding gunman kills radio commentator

New York, November 17, 2008–A gunman on a motorcycle shot radio commentator Arecio Padrigao in southern Gingoog city today, according to international news reports. The journalist died en route to the hospital.

The reports said the gunman fired on Padrigao, a commentator for Radyo Natin, outside Gingoog’s Bukidnon State University in Misamis Oriental province on the southern island of Mindanao. Several reports said the man targeted Padrigao while he was dropping his child off at school. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said two assailants may have been involved.

The union said Padrigao had received death threats just days before in connection with his radio program “Sayre ang Katilingban” (Know the Society). The commentator had criticized corruption and illegal logging in his broadcasts, news reports said. Police told journalists they were still investigating the motive for the murder.

“We are deeply concerned that Arecio Padrigao may be the latest in the growing toll of Philippine journalists slain for their work,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The aura of impunity surrounding these attacks on journalists is the government’s fault. As long as authorities continue in their failure to prosecute those responsible for such killings, journalists will be seen as easy targets.”

Two radio broadcasters were gunned down in separate incidents in the Philippines in August this year. Dennis Cuesta was fatally wounded after a shooting attack near a shopping mall in General Santos City, Mindanao, for his hard-hitting reports on local corruption, drugs, and illegal gambling. Martin Roxas died in a hospital in central Capiz from a bullet wound to the spine when he was shot while leaving his office.

Two print journalists were also shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen this year. CPJ is investigating the motives in those cases. In April, Benefredo Acabal succumbed to five gunshot wounds before reaching the hospital in Manila. Gunmen murdered Bert Sison and wounded his daughter in their car in Sariaya town, southeast of Manila, in July.

CPJ has launched a global campaign to combat impunity in unsolved journalist murders, focusing initially on the Philippines and Russia.