In Philippines, third journalist killed in two weeks

Bangkok, December 12, 2013–A radio reporter was shot dead in the Philippines on Wednesday, marking the third journalist to be killed in the past two weeks in the country. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to uphold the rule of law and bring an end to the killing spree of journalists that is under way across the country.

Rogelio Butalib was shot dead by an unidentified gunman at around 9 a.m. while getting on his motorcycle at a busy intersection outside of his radio station in Tagum town in Davao Del Norte province, according to news reports. Witnesses cited in the reports said the gunman fled the scene on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice.

Police said they recovered six shells from a .45 caliber handgun from the crime scene. Chief Inspector Jed Clamor said police were investigating whether the journalist’s murder was related to his work.

Butalib hosted a regular blocktime radio show known as “Ang Kamatuoran” (The Truth) on 107.9 FM Radyo Natin, on which he often covered local corruption issues, according to news accounts. Unidentified colleagues said Butalib regularly received anonymous death threats, according to news reports.

Radio blocktime reporters, who lease airtime from a radio station, are frequently targeted in provincial areas of the Philippines, CPJ research shows.

Police official Clamor told local journalists that the killing could also be related to Butalib’s election in October to councilman of Mankilam village, which was a “hotly contested district post,” according to news reports.

In a separate case on Tuesday, unidentified gunmen shot radio journalist Jonavin Villalbal at around 11 p.m. in front of his house in the central city of Iloilo, according to news reports. No suspects were arrested in the attack, the reports said. Villalbal, a crime reporter with dyOK Aksyon Radyo Ilolio, was in stable condition at Iloilo Mission Hospital, according to reports.

Butalib’s murder comes within the same two-week period as the fatal shooting by unknown assailants of radio broadcasters Joas Dignos and Michael Diaz Milo.

“The killing of three journalists and shooting of another in two weeks painfully reaffirms the Philippines’ reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a reporter,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Until the murderers of journalists are regularly brought to justice and the cycle of impunity is broken, the violence will inevitably continue.”