Bangkok, November 4, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the killing of Jose Bernardo, a radio reporter who was shot and killed on Saturday in the capital of the Philippines, according to news reports. Authorities must impartially investigate the murder and bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice, CPJ said today.
A gunman shot Bernardo, a reporter at the local DWBL and DWIZ radio stations, at around 9:45 p.m. on October 31 in front of a fast food restaurant in Quezon City, Metro Manila, according to news reports. The reporter was shot twice in the head and was declared dead on arrival at the nearby Bernardino General Hospital, reports said.
The gunman escaped on a motorcycle with an accomplice who served as a lookout for the attack, according to local news reports that cited witnesses. Spent shells from a .45 caliber handgun were recovered from the crime scene, the reports said. A restaurant worker was wounded by a stray bullet during the attack, reports said.
“Jose Bernardo’s murder underscores the Philippines’ reputation as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Until President Benigno Aquino demonstrates his government is serious about breaking the cycle of impunity, these types of killings will cut deeply into his legacy.”
Police Chief Inspector Rodelio Marcelo told local media that Bernardo’s death was motivated by either his work or a personal dispute, news reports said. He said police were collecting CCTV footage and would call on witnesses to testify.
National Capital Region Police Office Director Joel Pagdilao ordered the creation of Special Investigation Task Force “Jose” to investigate the killing. Pagdilao also ordered an investigation into reports that Bernardo had shouted at several policemen in an apparent dispute before his murder, according to reports. A preliminary task force report indicated Bernardo had received threatening text messages, reports said. The reports did not indicate who sent the threatening messages or their content.
Staff at DWBL and DWIZ declined to comment on the attack, reports said. Bernardo served as a public information officer of the Northern Police District Tri-Media Organization, a group of media workers who cover the Metro Manila police beat, according to news reports.
Bernardo is the seventh journalist to be killed in the Philippines so far this year, according to CPJ research. CPJ has been unable to confirm whether any of the killings were directly related to journalistic work, and continues to investigate. The Philippines ranks fourth on CPJ’s Impunity Index, a global statistical measure that spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and the killers go free.