Gunman kills freelance photographer in Philippines

Bangkok, August 2, 2013–A photographer was fatally shot in his home in southern General Santos City on Thursday, the third journalist to be killed in the Philippines in less than a week. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of Mario Sy, identify the motive in the attack, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

An unidentified gunman entered Sy’s home and shot him twice in front of his wife and daughter, according to news reports. The accounts said the assailant fled on foot and that Sy died at a local hospital. Police Director Froilan Quidilla said investigators recovered two shell casings from a .45-caliber handgun, the reports said.

Sy, a freelance photographer, regularly contributed to the local Sapol News Bulletin newspaper. John Paul Jubelag, publisher of the paper, said Sy’s murder could have been related to his contribution to a photo report on local drug trafficking earlier this year, according to a statement by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, a Manila-based press freedom advocacy group.

“Time and again, Philippine journalists are killed, circumstances remain a mystery, and the killers go unpunished. The investigation into Mario Sy’s murder needs to be different,” said CPJ senior Southeast Asia representative Shawn Crispin. “Until President Benigno Aquino’s government takes serious action to address his country’s impunity problem, the killings of journalists will continue.”

At least three other journalists have been killed in the Philippines this year, two in the past week. On July 30, gunmen on a motorcycle shot newspaper columnists Richard Kho and Bonifacio Loreto in the Quezon City section of Manila. On April 22, radio journalist Mario Vendiola Bayliss was killed by two unidentified gunmen in the town of Kabasalan in the southern province of Zamboanga Sibugay. CPJ is investigating whether the journalists’ murders were related to their journalism. No one has been convicted.

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, according to CPJ research. 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.