A radio commentator was shot dead after leaving a radio station in the city of Cebu in the central Philippines on Thursday, July 22.
Reynante Cortes, anchorperson of the commentary program “Engkwentro,” was shot and killed in front of radio station DyRB about nine o’clock in the morning.
The still-unidentified gunman fled on a motorcycle, said witnesses.
Police investigators are looking into the commentator’s background for possible motives for the killing.
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in Cebu expressed alarm over attacks against journalists and media workers that it said “continue to rise and are being normalized.”
“We further condemn the culture of impunity that emboldens these perpetrators to commit these crimes,” the group said.
The Cebu Citizens-Press Council urged authorities “to investigate thoroughly and speedily” the killing of Cortes.
“Whether he was a regular staff member or blocktimer of DyRB does not change this fact: He was a media practitioner whose killers should be arrested and prosecuted,” read a statement signed by lawyer Pachico Seares, executive director of the council.
“Media workers are not special people and do not expect special treatment,” said Seares, adding that the local community of journalists “will be content with diligent crime investigation that, sadly, people had not seen applied to similar cases of violence against media workers and other high-profile personalities.”
The group said it “worries about how another unsolved murder of a media worker could heighten the state of impunity that various sectors of society, not just the press, fear and condemn.”
“If a media worker’s life could be easily snuffed out, violence could replace democracy’s regular means of discourse,” said Seares in the statement.
The NUJP noted that there have been 223 incidents of attacks and threats against members of the media since 2016. The group recorded 19 killings, eight assassination attempts and 52 incidents of intimidation.
The Philippines ranks 136th out of 180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index that indicates the “difficult situation” of press freedom in the country.