MANILA — Gunmen shot dead the host of a political radio show in the Philippines, police said on Tuesday, the latest journalist to be killed in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for reporters.
Broadcaster Niel Jimena, 42, was riding his motorcycle in the central island of Negros on Monday when two men on another motorcycle shot him five times, said local police chief Leonardo Cobing.
“He noticed he was being followed, he tried to make a U-turn (to escape) but the two men continued to follow him until… one of them opened fire,” said Cobing.
The killing may be linked to Jimena’s twice-weekly show “Judge” on DYRI-RMN in Iloilo city on Negros where he regularly criticised the city mayor and other local officials, according to Cobing.
However Cobing said police could not rule out other motives.
The head of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Nestor Burgos, said his staff were checking to see if Jimena’s killing was related to his work as a journalist.
In what is a common practice in the Philippines, a local business tycoon had bought regular airtime on the radio station for Jimena’s show, in which the broadcaster attacked his patron’s rivals on air, according to Burgos.
The union had previously listed four journalists killed this year and 145 murdered since democracy was restored in 1986, Burgos said.
Media and rights groups say the Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists due to a “culture of impunity” where firearms are common and powerful figures believe they are above the law.
In the most infamous incident, 30 journalists were among 57 people murdered in the southern Philippines in 2009, allegedly by members of a powerful clan who wanted to eliminate a rival’s political challenge.