Bangkok, July 31, 2013–Authorities in the Philippines must identify the motive behind the murders of two journalists on Tuesday and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Both reporters were columnists for the Aksyon Ngayon weekly tabloid newspaper.
Two unidentified assailants on motorcycles shot Richard Kho and Bonifacio Loreto in front of a convenience store on Tuesday at around 11 p.m. in the Quezon City neighborhood of Manila, according to news reports. Authorities said the journalists died from multiple gunshot wounds and that police recovered several .45 caliber and 9-millimeter shells from the crime scene, the reports said.
Ray Moreno, a friend of the journalists who was with them at the time of the attack, told local press that the assailants arrived by motorcycle, opened fire on them at close range, and fled the scene. He said he was able to survive the attack by pretending he was dead, the reports said.
Kho’s daughter, Richelle, told local radio station Radyo Inquirer 990 AM that her father’s murder could have been related to his reporting, according to news reports. Aksyon Ngayon focuses on local community issues, including reporting on corruption, according to news reports. Richelle did not cite any specific stories she believed could have been behind the shooting, according to the reports.
Police said they had not identified any suspects and were investigating possible motives behind the crime.
“We urge police to investigate these murders thoroughly and identify the motive behind this double murder,” said CPJ senior Southeast Asia representative Shawn Crispin. “President Benigno Aquino and the authorities under his command must do more to bring to an end to the impunity in the killing of journalists in the Philippines.”
CPJ research shows that at least 73 Philippine journalists have been killed in direct connection to their work since 1992, making the Philippines the second deadliest country in the world for the press. At least 55 journalist murders in the past decade have been unresolved, according to CPJ research. Philippines ranks third on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.
- For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Philippines page.