Media and human rights groups expressed concerns over threats to journalists in the Philippines after another broadcaster was shot in Negros Oriental just before the end of 2018.
50-year-old radio announcer Gabriel Alburo, also known as “Kumander Aguila” in his show on local station 94.5 dyJL FM, was shot by motorcycle-riding men while he was walking on the way home in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental at around 3:05 a.m. on Friday, December 28.
Local police recovered eleven empty shells of a .45 caliber pistol and a fired cartridge of 9mm pistol, according to a report by the Inquirer.
According to the same report, Senior Inspector Danilo Santillan, La Libertad police chief ruled out the motive behind the killing to be job-related as Alburo is believed to have figured in an altercation at a cockpit prior to his death.
Alburo was expected to run as a city councilor in the May 2019 elections.
While the motive for the killing remains unclear, some groups voiced their concern over the attacks on journalists in the country.
Commission on Human Rights Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia condemned the attacks carried out by “riding in-tandem” perpetrators and urged the government to address the attacks.
“We equally call on the government to further intensify its efforts in guarding the rights of all, especially at this time of rampant human rights violation around,” she said.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines meanwhile said that the killing of Alburo, if proven to be work-related, would be the 13th such killing of a journalist since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration in 2016 and the 186th killing since 1986.
Joel Salinas Pimentel, a radio announcer based in Surigao del Sur, survived an attempt on his life carried out by men on a motorcycle who shot at him while he was driving home on December 28, the same day as the attack on Alburo. Police are still investigating the attempt.
Philippines among “worst” places for journalists
A report published by the International Federation of Journalists just a week before Alburo’s death named the Philippines one of the worst countries in Southeast Asia for journalists in terms of impunity.
The Philippines had a ranking of 7.7 out of 10 according to the scale developed by the organization, beating other Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia (6.1), Indonesia (7.4), Malaysia (6.3), Myanmar (7.5), and Timor-Leste (4.1).
The factors considered in the scale included cyber attacks, poor wages, censorship and government attacks on the workplace.
A report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism recorded four killings of Filipino journalists in 2018 prior to Alburo’s death, making him the fifth such victim.
Apart from the killings, the IFJ noted that Filipino reporters and media outlets were also subject to harassment, online “trolling” and threats, with 85 reported cases from June 2016 to May 2018.