Vehicles on a highway heading to the port in Matnog, Sorsogon, the Philippines, on December 17, 2017. A radio broadcaster was killed in Sorsogon City on January 9, 2018. (AFP/Charism Sayat)

Radio broadcaster killed under suspicious circumstances in the Philippines

January 11, 2019 8:38 AM ET

Bangkok, January 11, 2018--Philippine authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of Filipino news broadcaster John Michael Decano and bring the assailant to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Decano, a radio reporter with DWPY 88.1 FM in Sorsogon City, was found dead at around 1:15 p.m. on January 9 inside a massage and beauty parlor in the same city's Burabod district, local news reports said.

Police Chief Inspector Malu Calubaquib, a spokesperson at the Police's Regional Office 5, said Decano died from a blow to the head with a portable cement stove, the Manila Bulletin newspaper reported. The police official said that Decano's personal belongings were missing from the crime scene.

"Until authorities in the Philippines regularly conduct thorough, credible, and efficient investigations into journalists' murders, the entrenched cycle of impunity will continue," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's senior Southeast Asia representative. "We call on relevant authorities to leave no stone unturned in identifying the motive and prosecuting the perpetrator of this crime."

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local group that monitors press freedom violations, told CPJ by email that Decano reported mainly on commodity issues and was not known to have received any threats over his news reporting.

The government's management of commodity prices, including crucial staples like rice, has become politicized in the Philippines in recent months as inflation hit a 10-year high, according to news reports.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state body established by President Rodrigo Duterte to tackle media murder cases, said in a statement that it would consider Decano's killing to be related to his work as a radio announcer until proved otherwise.

Joel Sy Egco, the task force's executive director, called on Police Regional Director Chief Superintendent Arnel Escobal to "stop at nothing" in investigating who was behind Decano's murder, the statement said.

News reports said that Decano also worked as a beautician.

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