Renato Blanco

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Blanco, a radio reporter at Power 102.1 DYRY RFM, was stabbed in the neck by suspect Charles Amada during an altercation at the latter’s brother’s home in Mabinay town, Negros Oriental Province, on September 18, 2022, according to news reports. The reporter was declared dead on arrival at the town’s Mabinay Community Hospital, the reports said.

Amada surrendered to police soon after the killing and was taken into police custody, where he is being held in pre-trial detention murder charges, news reports said.

Lieutenant Colonel Roland Desiree Lavisto, a provincial police official, said that Amada confessed to Blanco’s murder during police interrogations and that he said he acted out of anger over Blanco’s radio commentaries critical of him and his political family. 

Blanco, a radio commentator at the local Power 102.1 DYRY RFM Mabinay, frequently reported on local politics, corruption, and social issues, according to a station representative who communicated with CPJ via Facebook messenger and requested anonymity for security reasons. 

The station representative said Blanco had alleged on his regular “Rakrakan sa Hapon Bulls Eye with Rey Blanco” radio program that Armada and his family members were involved in local corruption, including an overpricing scheme that resulted in local power outages. 

The representative said Blanco had also reported on illegal quarrying, overpricing of medical supplies purchased during the pandemic, and alleged electoral fraud at this year’s May elections that caused thousands to march in the town’s streets in protest.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency comprised of law enforcement agencies including the Philippine National Police (PNP) tasked with solving media murders, said in a September 19 statement that it presumed the killing was “work related” as a matter of policy but that it was “too early to determine the exact motive behind the incident.”

The task force responded to CPJ’s subsequent emailed request for comment by sending a link to a state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA) report that quoted the agency “strongly condemning” the killing while sending its “deepest condolences” to Blanco’s family and friends, without elaboration or comment.   

The task force said in a follow-up October 19 email to CPJ that it had determined that Blanco’s killing was “not related to his work as a broadcaster or journalist” and that police investigators had disclosed without elaborating that the motive for the killing was a “personal grudge"–an apparent reference to Blanco’s reporting on Amada and his political family’s alleged corruption.

Police official Lavisto was quoted in a separate PNA report, also published on September 19, saying that Blanco faced two libel charges, a complaint under a local law on violence against women and children and was “at odds with” an unnamed local village chief, who he claimed Blanco was considering challenging in upcoming local elections.   

Len Olea, secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local press advocacy organization, told CPJ by email that according to a local representative of his group and judging by news reports citing Armada’s confession that Blanco’s murder was “likely” related to his hard-hitting radio commentaries.