Tabloid reporter gunned down in the Philippines

Bangkok, January 9, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalist calls on authorities in the Philippines to identify the motive in Thursday’s murder of tabloid reporter Nerlita Ledesma and bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice.

Ledesma was shot dead near her home in central Bataan province’s Balanga City at around 8 a.m. on Thursday by two assailants on motorcycles who fled the scene, according to news reports. Police recovered bullet casings from a .45 caliber handgun at the crime scene, the reports said. Ledesma died from wounds sustained to her chest, leg, arms, and hands, according to news reports.

Ledesma was a provincial correspondent with the national Abate tabloid newspaper and a radio news anchor with Balanga City’s Power Radio, according to news reports. She was also the president of the Tagnai Homeowners Association in the Sitio San Rafael area of the city, reports said.

Balanga City Police Chief Superintendent Frederick Obar told reporters that Ledesma’s murder could have been motivated by either a land dispute or her journalism. He said Ledesma had received anonymous death threats prior to the attack. Unidentified gunmen had fired on her family house over a year ago, according to news reports.

“The murder of journalist Nerlita Ledesma is symptomatic of an entrenched culture of impunity in the Philippines,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “President Benigno Aquino’s administration should recommit to combating the problem in 2015, beginning with the capture and conviction of Ledesma’s killers.”

More journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in the Philippines than in any country except for Iraq and Syria since CPJ began keeping detailed statistics in 1992. The Philippines ranked third on CPJ’s 2014 Impunity Index, a global measure of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.