Nilo Baculo

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Baculo, 67, was shot dead around noon by two unidentified assailants on a motorcycle in Mindoro Oriental province’s Calapan City, according to news reports. The assailants fled on the motorcycle, the reports said.

Baculo was declared dead on arrival at Maria Estrella Hospital, the Philippine Inquirer reported. Leo de Leon, a journalist who was a witness to the attack, said Baculo was shot approximately 500 meters away from his house, according to the same report. De Leon said Baculo had received several anonymous death threats before his killing.

Baculo was an anchorman for dwIM Radyo Mindoro, where his program often addressed sensitive issues, according to news reports citing local press freedom groups. Baculo’s sons said he was working on a story about illegal drugs in the city right before he was killed, according to local media reports.

However, other reports, citing police, said he was no longer employed as a journalist at the time of his death. CPJ’s repeated calls and emails to dwIM Radyo were not returned.

In February 2008, Baculo petitioned the Supreme Court for a temporary protection order after elected officials he alleged in his reporting were involved in illegal drug trafficking launched an assassination plot against him, according to news reports. In June that year, a Court of Appeals denied his request on the basis that he failed to prove that his life was at risk, the reports said. It was not clear if Baculo’s murder was related to the death threat he allegedly received in 2008.

News accounts citing his daughter, Nilda, said that he had filed more than 20 criminal and civil cases against Oriental Mindoro officials, including police officers and private individuals, as a “concerned citizen.” Most of the cases involved graft and corruption, the daughter said.

According to news reports, Father Edwin Gariguez, the executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines who is internationally recognized for his environmental advocacy work, said he had evidence that Baculo had used his position as a radio commentator to deceive several people into signing consent for mining activities by a foreign company. The individuals believed they were signing up for a membership in a local group, Gariguez said.

Superintendent Glicerio Cansilao said police were investigating to identify suspects and determine a motive for the crime, according to local news reports. The Oriental Mindoro police formed a special task force to solve the killing.