Radio broadcaster shot dead in the Philippines

New York, June 15, 2010—Mindanao police must thoroughly pursue their investigation into Monday’s murder of broadcast journalist Desidario Camangyan and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

A gunman shot Desidario Camangyan from behind at close range while the broadcaster was on stage hosting an amateur singing contest in Manay town, Davao Oriental province, on the southern island of Mindanao, at around 10:30 p.m. Monday, according to local and international news reports. Camangyan died at the scene from a single shot to the head in front of the contest’s audience, which included his wife and 6-year-old son, the reports said. Police said the shooting took place in the dark and the gunman escaped on foot.

Camangyan was an anchor for local radio station Sunrise FM in the provincial capital, Mati City, according to local press freedom group the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. Sunrise Manager Bobong Alcantara told local journalists that Camangyan’s hard-hitting commentaries against illegal logging operations were a possible motive in the attack. Camangyan had also campaigned for the incumbent mayor of Mati, Michelle Rabat, in last month’s general elections, according to local news reports.

Senior Police Superintendent Jorge Corpuz with the local police is leading a special investigation task group to probe the killing, local news reports said.

“Police must move quickly to apprehend the killers of Desidario Camangyan and prosecute those responsible,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The authorities must ensure that no witnesses are intimidated from coming forward or testifying, as has been the case in previous such murders in the Philippines.”

CPJ wrote a letter on June 9 calling on President-elect Benigno Aquino to address the country’s high rate of journalist murders, and thoroughly investigate the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre, a single incident in which 32 journalists and media workers were killed. The Philippines placed third on CPJ’s 2010 Impunity Index, a list of countries which consistently fail to address journalist killings, after Iraq and Somalia.