Philippine radio commentator fatally shot

New York, August 24, 2011–Police in Negros Occidental province must thoroughly investigate Monday’s murder of radio commentator Niel Jimena, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ is investigating the killing to determine whether it was work-related.

Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot Jimena, 42, on Monday night near his home in the Negros Island town of E.B. Magalona, according to local and international news reports. He was riding his own motorcycle when he was shot, and died of multiple gunshot wounds before arriving at the local hospital, the reports said. Jimena broadcast political commentary on DYRI-RMN Radio in nearby Iloilo City, leasing airtime under a common Philippine practice known as “block-timing.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said in a statement that police have not determined a motive in the case or whether the killing was work-related. The local Visayan Daily Star newspaper said Jimena had received threats from a politician he criticized on air before his death. Agence France-Presse reported that a local business person funded his show.

“Police in Negros Occidental must launch a thorough investigation of Niel Jimena’s murder and determine whether it was in reprisal for his work,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “The Philippines has an appalling record of allowing media killings to go unsolved, perpetuating a deadly cycle of impunity.”

Broadcaster Romeo Olea was shot twice in the back riding a motorcycle to work in Camarines Sur province on June 13.

The Philippines has one of the worst records worldwide for investigating and solving journalist murders, according to CPJ research. The country was third worst on CPJ’s 2011 Impunity Index, which calculates unsolved media killings as a percentage of the population.