A broadcaster was killed in the southern Philippines, police said Thursday as colleagues and press-freedom advocates expressed anger over the latest deadly attack on journalist in the Southeast Asian country.
Eduardo Dizon, 58, of Brigada News FM in Kidapawan city, was driving home after hosting his radio program when two men riding a motorcycle ambushed him late Wednesday, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said. Dizon is the 13th journalist or media worker killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took power in mid-2016.
Dizon was “shot by unidentified suspects for several times,” local police chief Lt. Col. Joyce Raro Birrey said.
“The victim sustained five gunshot wounds to different parts of his body which resulted in his instantaneous death,” Birrey said in her incident report, a copy of which was obtained by BenarNews.
Police said the motive for the attack was not known although Dizon recently aired a hard-hitting commentary on local issues, including corruption. He previously reported that he had received a death threat.
The NUJP said it had obtained a copy of Dizon’s complaint filed with the police alleging that the radio station had recently received a text message on its hotline challenging the broadcaster to a “duel.” “Watch out Brigada because you will die, just wait, someone will shoot you,” the message read.
Dizon’s death “underscores yet again how the overwhelming failure of government to ensure justice for violent crime can only invite even more bloodshed by perpetrators emboldened by the certainty that they can literally get away with murder,” the NUJP said.
“At the same time, we demand that the government do its duty and end the culture of impunity that continues to embolden those for whom violence is the preferred means to solve disputes,” the union said. “We demand that authorities solve Dizon’s murder and ensure the perpetrators are caught and successfully prosecuted.”
The Philippine judicial system has had fewer than 20 convictions related to media killings, the group said.
In November 2009, 58 people were killed when a political clan massacred members of a rival family contesting the governorship of a southern province. Thirty-two of those killed were journalists or media workers, the largest single-day killing of press workers anywhere in the world, rights and press groups said.
Radio station Brigada, in a statement, described Dizon as “a veteran and seasoned broadcast journalist” and that his killing was an “attempt to silence Brigada media and its news personalities.
“This brazen move by those who perpetrated the crime will not deter Brigada from pursuing its sacred mission but will instead provide the strength and determination to serve for the best interest of the public,” it said as it called on the authorities to solve the “gruesome murder.”
Jacqueline Anne de Guia, a spokeswoman for the independent Commission on Human Rights (CHR), said the killing was part of the growing trend of harassment and violence against the Filipino media.
“CHR strongly urges the government to act on this case and bring the perpetrators to account, and to ensure that steps will be taken to ensure the further safety of our country’s journalists and media professionals,” de Guia said in a statement.
She stressed that a functioning democracy should never allow this to occur.
“The continuous rise of media killings and harassment is alarming and needs to be addressed before more lives are lost,” de Guia said.
Richel V. Umel in Iligan City, Philippines, contributed to this report.