Second Philippine journalist killed from same radio station

New York, June 13, 2011 — Romeo Olea, a provincial radio commentator in the Philippines, was shot dead on his way to work Monday morning. Local and international media reports, quoting police sources, say Olea was shot twice in the back while riding his motorcycle to work in Iriga City in Camarines Sur province, about 480 miles (300 kilometers) from Manila.

Senior police Superintendent Victor Deona told Agence France Press “there is a very big possibility that this is work-related.” AFP reported that Olea’s wife reported that he had received death threats, but was too traumatized to give details.

“The killing of Romeo Olea must not become just another uninvestigated, unprosecuted death of a journalist in the Philippines,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The government must step in to help local police and prosecutors bring Olea’s killers to trial and see the process through to a conviction and sentencing.”

Olea was the second DWEB radio announcer to be killed in less than a year. Miguel Belen a part-time radio commentator at the station, died in a local hospital after being shot seven times by two motorcycle-riding assailants on the evening of July 9, 2010. On August 5, murder charges were filed against Eric Vargas, 34, the alleged driver, and Gina Bagacina, the accused shooter, according to news reports. Belen had purportedly identified his attackers before he died. The pair has not been tried.

Like many other provincial call-in news shows, Olea’s daily broadcast “Anything Goes” dealt with local government and accusations of corruption. In a statement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said the government deplores Olea’s “senseless killing.”

The Philippines ranked third on CPJ’s Impunity Index in 2011, making it one of the worst nations in terms of official reluctance to fight anti-press forces. The index, which calculates unsolved media murders as a percentage of population, highlights countries where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. Only Somalia and Iraq rank worse on the index than the Philippines.