Bangkok, May 6, 2020 — Philippine authorities should conduct a swift and transparent investigation into the killing of reporter Rex Cornelio Pepino, determine if the attack was related to his journalism, and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 9 p.m. yesterday, unidentified assailants on a motorcycle shot Pepino, a reporter at the privately owned Original Energy 93.7 FM broadcaster, in Dumaguete City’s Daro village, in the southern Philippines, according to news reports.
Pepino sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the head, chest, shoulder, and wrist, and was declared dead on arrival at the Silliman University Medical Center, according to the Cebu Daily News. The assailants fled the scene after the attack, according to that report.
“Authorities should leave no stone unturned in investigating the killing of reporter Rex Cornelio Pepino and bringing those responsible to justice,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Until the Philippine government shows it is serious about solving journalist killings, this vicious cycle of impunity will continue.”
At the time of the attack, the reporter was riding home with his wife on a motorcycle after finishing his regular “Hit It Baby” program, according to the Cebu Daily News, which said that his wife survived the attack.
Pepino’s program addressed local issues related to illegal mining, official graft and corruption, and poor governance, the Philippine Inquirer reported.
CPJ emailed the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency tasked with solving media killings, but did not receive an immediate reply.
The Philippines ranked fifth on CPJ’s most recent Impunity Index, a ranking of countries worldwide where journalists are slain and their killers go free.