Mindanao radio journalist shot dead in latest Philippines media killing

Gunmen shot dead an outspoken radio broadcaster in the Philippines, worsening the country’s record as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, press and human rights groups said on Saturday.

Joas Dignos, who commented on local issues in his weekday show Bombardier on DXGT radio, was shot in the head by motorcycle-riding men in Valencia City in the southern island of Mindanao late on Friday, police said.

Law enforcement officials would not comment on suspects or possible motives.

Dignos, 48, was known for his fiery comments regarding city officials, the radio station personnel said.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said that Dignos had previously received death threats and had even stopped his live broadcasts, using recorded commentary instead due to safety concerns.

In June, a grenade was hurled at the DXGT station while one of Dignos’s commentaries was being aired.

“It really looks like (the killing) is work-related because he has no known enemies in his personal life, only those who objected to his programme,” said Joseph Deveza, the NUJP’s safety coordinator for Mindanao.

Human Rights Watch said that as many as 24 journalists have been murdered since President Benigno Aquino took office in 2010 despite his promise to fight against such abuses.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phelim Kine also accused the Aquino administration of insulting victims and trying to downplay the problem, citing recent remarks by an Aquino spokesman that violence against press members was “not that serious.”

“The killing of another Filipino journalist yesterday should prompt the Aquino administration to revisit its views about media killings in the Philippines and, more importantly, ensure that this recent murder and the ones before it are investigated fully,” Kine said in a statement.

The killings of numerous journalists and broadcasters in the Philippines has been blamed on the country’s ‘culture of impunity’ where powerful people feel free to commit abuses without being punished.

In one of the worst instances of such crimes, 32 journalists were among 58 people kidnapped and murdered allegedly by a powerful political clan in the southern province of Maguindanao in November 2009.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists ranks the Philippines as the third worst in its “impunity index” of countries that fail to fight violence against the press.

It said at least 72 journalists had been murdered since 1992, not counting the case of Dignos.

SOURCE www.scmp.com