Editor gunned down in Sultan Kudarat town

Senior Insp. Ismael Mama, Sultan Kudarat town police chief, identified the victim as Hernane Pastolero, 64, editor in chief of the weekly “Lightning Courier.”

Mama said the victim was shot at around 6:15 a.m., while having his morning sunshine at a basketball court five meters from his house in Barangay Bulalo when shot. He suffered two gunshot wounds to the head from a caliber .45 pistol, Mama said.

He said they recovered two slugs from the crime scene.

Jo Henry of the ARMM public information office,  said Pastolero “used to own a newspaper" and had been practicing journalism in Cotabato City.

Citing initial investigation, Mama said that  Pastolero had not received death threats prior to the incident.

"We talked with his relatives," the police official said, urging witnesses to come out and help shed light on the matter.

At least two suspects reportedly carried out the attack.

Rommel Rebollido, spokesperson of the National Union of Journalist in the Philippines here, called on authorities to immediately bring the suspects to the bar of justice.

Pastolero was the first media fatality for this year working in this part of the country.

On March 24, 2005, a Maundy Thursday, corruption whistleblower Marlene Garcia Esperat was killed while having dinner with his two young sons in March. Her killers were convicted by court in Cebu City late last year but the masterminds remain free.

Esperat, a former chemist at the Department of Agriculture who turned into a corruption whistleblower,  wrote a column for the weekly paper Midland Review based in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat province.

The conviction of her killers was the fourth successful prosecution in the country involving media killings.

Earlier, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility reported that of the 60 journalists killed since democracy was restored in 1986, only three cases have been successfully prosecuted as of September 2006.

The Esperat case was promulgated in October 2006.

Of the 60 cases, only the killings of Nesino Paulin Toling (Panguil Bay Monitor in Ozamis) on April 14, 1991, Odilon Mallari (dxCP in General Santos City) on February 15, 1998, and Edgar Damalerio (dxKP, Zamboang Scribe in Pagadian City) on May 13, 2002   have been successfully prosecuted.

The Reporters Sans Frontiers (Reporters Without Borders) and the Committee to Protect Journalists have tagged the Philippines as the "most dangerous place" for journalists to work outside of the war zone.