Broadcaster gunned down in the Philippines

New York, October 19, 2011–A radio commentator and anti-mining tribal activist who was scheduled to launch a new radio station program in a few days was gunned down in the southern Philippines on October 14, news reports said

Roy Bagtikan Gallego was shot several times by men on a motorcycle as he was riding his motorcycle in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur province, in the southern Philippines, news reports said. The journalist was due to start a new block-time program with 92.7 Smile FM San Francisco, the reports said. Block-timing is a practice whereby a broadcaster leases air time from a radio station and is responsible for bringing in advertising money to cover the expenses of the program. A number of block-time commentators have been killed in the Philippines, according to CPJ research. In 2010, Gallego had hosted a similar program on DxSF San Francisco Radio, news reports said.

“Roy Bagtikan Gallego’s death must be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Gallego’s death is emblematic of a much larger problem. In the Philippines, journalism and political activism are often conjoined, and the government must address the murders of journalists who use local media to take on controversial issues that threaten not only their lives but the strength of the nation’s media.”

Local police say they are investigating the death of Gallego, but have reached no conclusions on a possible motive and have not identified suspects, news reports said. Gallego, also a tribal leader of the Manobo tribe, had led the fight against small- and large-scale mining operators whose activities he claimed violated the rights of indigenous people in the region.

In 2011, radio journalists Romeo Olea and Gerardo Ortega were killed in direct relation to their work, CPJ research shows. CPJ is also investigating the deaths of at least two other journalists to determine if their murders were related to their work.