Armed police are seen in Manila, the Philippines, on August 4, 2020. Journalist Jobert Bercasio was recently shot and killed in Sorsogon City, in the central Philippines. (AFP/Ted Aljibe)

Journalist Jobert Bercasio shot and killed in the Philippines

Bangkok, September 15, 2020 – Philippine authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of journalist Jobert Bercasio and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

At about 8 p.m. yesterday, two unidentified assailants on a motorcycle shot and killed Bercasio, a reporter and commentator at the privately run internet broadcaster Balangibog, in Sorsogon City, in the central Philippines, according to news reports and a statement emailed to CPJ by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency tasked with solving media killings.

Bercasio was riding his motorcycle near the XTRM Seabreeze Homes subdivision in the city’s Cabid-an village, when the attackers shot him five times and then fled, leaving the journalist to die at the scene, according to news reports and the statement.

“Authorities must fully and independently investigate the killing of reporter Jobert Bercasio, determine if it was related to his reporting, and bring his killers swiftly to justice,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “The wanton killing of journalists will continue as long as the cycle of impunity remains unbroken in the Philippines.”

Station Chief Lieutenant Colonel Benito Dipad Jr. said investigators had not determined a motive for the murder, according to the Philippine Inquirer. The Police Regional Office 5 said it has formed a special team to investigate the killing, reports said.

The Manila Bulletin reported that Bercasio was shot about 100 meters from the Sorsogon City police headquarters.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security told CPJ that it considered all forms of violence against journalists to be work-related until investigations prove otherwise. It also noted that Bercasio had previously run in an election to serve as his hometown’s mayor but lost.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local press group, said in a statement that Bercasio was killed about one hour after posting allegations on his personal Facebook page that trucks were operating in a nearby quarry without proper documentation. On his personal page, Bercasio frequently posted links to his reporting and commentary on local political issues.

Balangibog’s Facebook page shows that Bercasio frequently reported and commented on local political and development issues, including during a call-in show he hosted.

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.