Philippine broadcast journalist shot dead

New York, June 9, 2009–Police in Mindoro Occidental province should immediately investigate the shooting murder of Philippine radio commentator Crispin Perez for possible links to his reporting, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

An unidentified attacker stabbed and fatally shot Perez on Tuesday in San Jose in the central Philippines, according to local and international news reports. The attack took place in the broadcaster’s home shortly after his morning show at the local DWDO radio station, Agence France-Presse reported. Some news reports said he was standing outside the station when he was attacked. Perez was a former politician and had also worked as a lawyer. Police told journalists they were investigating possible motives for the murder. AFP cited a local politician as saying that Perez had recently “made enemies” over a local energy deal but did not elaborate on the content of his radio program.  

The perpetrator fled on a motorcycle, according to the news reports. Perez was declared dead on arrival at the local hospital, the reports said.

Perez is the fourth journalist killed in a shooting attack in the Philippines this year. CPJ is investigating whether he and two other killed radio broadcasters, Badrodin Abbas in January and Ernie Rollin in February, were targeted for their commentaries. Print journalist Jojo Trajano was slain in crossfire while covering a police raid on June 3.

“We urge local police, in cooperation with the Philippine government, to pursue the investigation into Crispin Perez’s murder promptly to establish whether he was killed for his broadcasts,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia Program coordinator. “Authorities must address the shockingly high level of violence against Philippine journalists by bringing those responsible to justice.”

Two other radio journalists, Harrison Manalac and Nilo Labares, survived gunshot wounds following attempts on their lives in May and March respectively. CPJ has not confirmed the motive in those attacks.

The six shootings, which were scattered throughout the Philippines, do not appear to be related, but took place in a climate of near-total impunity in journalist murder cases, according to CPJ research. Radio broadcasters, who frequently lease airtime from stations to broadcast personal commentaries without editorial input, are particularly vulnerable to violent retribution from listeners, CPJ research shows.  

CPJ works with local partners in the Philippines on the Global Campaign Against Impunity, which seeks justice in journalist murders, and launched its 2009 Impunity Index in Manila in March, with the Philippines ranking sixth worldwide among countries that fail to prosecute cases of killed journalists.