Radio Broadcaster Gunned Down in Southern Philippines

Richel V. Umel
Iligan, Philipines
171025-PH-broadcaster-620.jpg Protesters march near the presidential palace in Manila to remember the 34 journalists and media workers who were among 58 people killed on Nov. 23, 2009, in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, Nov. 23, 2015.

Unidentified gunmen in the southern Philippines shot and killed a journalist who often lashed out against government corruption on his radio program, police said Wednesday.

Christopher Iban Lozada, 29, was killed when gunmen aboard a van waylaid his car in the city of Bislig on Mindanao island late Tuesday.

Lozada was with his 19-year-old girlfriend at the time of the ambush. She suffered gunshot wounds, but is believed to be out of danger, officials said.

Lozada hosted a local public-affairs program on dxBF Prime Broadcasting Network, where he frequently chided local officials on issues ranging from corruption to mismanagement. He also was an officer of the local media organization called Bislig.

Bislig said that Lozada was the fifth journalist killed in Surigao del Sur province in eight years. He was the third journalist killed since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power in June 2016.

In August, unidentified gunmen on motorcycles killed journalists Rudy Alicaway and Leonardo Diaz in separate incidents, also in the south.

The two were killed on the southern island of Mindanao, which Duterte placed under martial law in May as he gave the military full control to crush Islamic State-linked gunmen who had laid siege to the city of Marawi. The military declared the battle over on Monday, but has not lifted military rule.

A month before Alicaway and Diaz were murdered, an unknown assailant also shot and critically wounded another radio commentator, Julito Orlillandea, in the town of Marihatag, also in Mindanao. Police are trying to establish the motive for the attacks, officials said.

The killings of Alicaway and Diaz brought to 177 the number of Filipino reporters killed since 1986, according to a statement issued in August by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

“The killings happened in the two provinces of Mindanao even as the whole region is under Martial Law,” the NUJP said at the time, adding, “this again highlights the culture of impunity in the attacks against and killings of Filipino journalists that have remained unabated despite an international outcry.”

In 2009, 58 people were killed – 34 of them media workers – in the southern province of Maguindanao in what has been labeled by a media monitoring group as “the single deadliest event for journalists” in recent history.

The journalists were part of a convoy that followed supporters of a politician to the province of Maguindanao, but were stopped at a checkpoint and killed by gunmen who allegedly supported a rival politician.

Almost 100 people have been jailed and charged with murder, but none have been convicted.

Even before the massacre, the New York-based nonprofit media monitor Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has labeled the Philippines the second most dangerous country for journalists, second only to Iraq.


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