Radio journalist shot dead in the Philippines

New York, December 2, 2013–Philippine authorities must identify the perpetrators behind the fatal shooting of radio journalist Joas Dignos on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Dignos was a local radio commentator, according to news reports.

Two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot Dignos in the head while he was traveling on a national highway in Valencia City, police told local media. The journalist hosted a weekday show called “Bombardier” on DXGT radio, in which he often criticized local officials, according to news reports. The reports did not offer further details.

Local police said they were unable to determine if the motive was related to Dignos’ work, but the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said that Dignos had in the past received death threats in connection with his work and had at times used recorded commentary to replace his live broadcasts so that potential assailants would not know his whereabouts. In June, a grenade exploded near the station while one of Dignos’ recorded commentaries was on air, according to local media reports.

In a Monday radio interview, Herminio Coloma Jr., presidential communications secretary, said authorities were investigating the murder.

“The Philippine government’s promises of an investigation into the killing of Joas Dignos ring hollow,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Authorities have made such pledges before, yet have made barely any headway in confronting the problem of journalists’ murders.”

At least six journalists in the Philippines have been killed in unclear circumstances in 2013. CPJ is investigating to determine if the murders were related to the journalists’ work.

On November 22, the day before the fourth anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre and a week before Dignos was killed, Coloma angered journalists and media activists at a press conference when he said the number of journalists’ deaths had been inflated. The problem was “not so serious,” he told reporters.