Bangkok, July 23, 2021 – Philippine authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of radio journalist Renante “Rey” Cortes and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 9 a.m. yesterday, unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle shot and killed Cortes while he was standing outside Cebu City’s dyRB radio station, where he hosts a regular political news program, according to news reports.
Cortes sustained wounds to his chest and arm, and was declared dead on arrival at the Cebu City Medical Center, the reports said.
“Authorities must fully and independently investigate the killing of journalist Renante ‘Rey’ Cortes, determine if it was related to his reporting, and bring all those involved swiftly to justice,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Until authorities show they are serious about bringing violent attacks on journalists to justice, these wanton killings will continue.”
He had just completed his daily program when he was shot, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local press group, said in a statement.
Cebu City Police Major Dindo Alaras said investigators were looking into Cortes’ work as a journalist and past personal conflicts as possible motives for the killing, Rappler reported.
Alaras said, without elaborating, that Cortes’ radio commentaries often brought him into conflict with political personalities. He said police would check CCTV footage in the area where Cortes was killed and deploy a tracker team to hunt for suspects.
DyRB administrative associate Nova Banawan said she was not aware of any recent death threats against Cortes, but noted that two unidentified people had visited the station’s office on June 21 to inquire about his schedule, Rappler reported.
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency tasked with solving media murders, said in a statement that Cortes had survived a previous attempt on his life without elaborating and that he was arrested for alleged extortion in 2006.
The task force did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on if it considered Cortes’ killing related to his work as a journalist and if it had uncovered any leads on potential suspects.
The Philippines ranked seventh on CPJ’s most recent Impunity Index, a ranking of countries worldwide where journalists are slain and their killers go free.