3rd Filipino reporter murdered in 5 days

MANILA - The spree of unabated killings of Filipino journalists continued to hound the Philippine press with the murder of a tabloid writer in a brazen gangland-style execution in southern Philippines last Saturday, the third in a span of five days. Police identified the victim as Nestor Bedolido, a writer for Kastigador, a local weekly based in Digos City some 950 kilometers south of Manila. He sustained six gunshot wounds in his body.

After the shooting the gunman casually walked to a waiting motorcycle driven by a companion and sped away.

Earlier, two broadcast journalists Desidario Camangyan and Joselito Agustin were killed by assassins in two separate occasions on June 14 and 15, respectively. Camangyan, a reporter of Sunrise FM radio in Mati City, Davao Oriental was gunned down in the town of Manay while hosting a singing contest, while Agustin who was riding a motorbike with his nephew was fatally shot by two hit-men riding in tandem on a motorcycle in Ilocos Norte in northern Philippines.

Bedolido was buying cigarettes in a nearby store when the gunman calmly sneaked from behind and shot him at close range early evening last Saturday.

“I believe the killing of my father is politically motivated,” his son, Marxlen, told reporters.

Bedolido is the 140th member of media killed since 1986, making the Philippines as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists.

Ironically, the successive killings of the three journalists occurred after the five-month nationwide election gun ban expired last June 9. The national election was held on May 10.

Initial investigation showed that the killers were members of a criminal group.

On November 23, 2009, 57 people, including 32 journalists were killed in what is dubbed as the infamous “Maguindanao Massacre” in Central Mindanao. The matssacre was blamed on polical warklords.

With this latest spate of killings, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urged President-elect Benigno C. Aquino III to swiftly act to resolve the killings.

“The enemies of press freedom are on a killing spree,” Nonoy Espina, NUJP vice chair, said.

“But it is more than that. It shows that the level of impunity is just so high that they believe they can get away with murder no matter who sits as president,” Espina lamented. “

Detlev Mehlis, head of the European Union-funded program helping train the police and prosecutors to solve the killings, was outraged by the wave of murders of members of media.

Asia, Press FreedomBen Cal