Two provincial radio presenters gunned down in space of 24 hours

Reporters Without Borders urges President Gloria Arroyo and President-elect Noynoy Aquino to react firmly to the murders of two provincial radio presenters in the past two days. Two weeks before Aquino’s swearing-in, there are clearly people in positions of influence who think they can still hire hit-men to silence critical journalists with impunity.

“These two murders signal President Arroyo’s failure as regards the safety of journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Combating impunity and violence against the media must now be a priority for Aquino. The whole country’s credibility is at stake.”

The press freedom organisation added: “Post-electoral violence against the media is not new, but these two murders in close succession are alarming. We call on the police and judicial authorities to assign additional personnel to the investigations and, in both cases, to seriously examine the possibility that the motive was linked to the victim’s work as a journalist.”

Desidario Camangyan, 52, the host of a discussion programme on Sunshine FM, was gunned down while on the stage of a singing contest in Manay, in the southeastern province of Davao Oriental, on the evening of 14 June.

Police office Ariel Nueva said Camangyan was sitting on the stage when a gunman fired a single shot to his head and then left on foot. A police spokesman told Reporters Without Borders that a team had been formed to investigate the case and that they were looking closely at the possibility of a link to Camangyan’s journalistic work.

Colleagues at Sunshine FM, which is part of the Kalayaan Broadcasting Network, told journalists’ organisations that Camangyan was often critical in his programmes of local politicians and those responsible for deforestation. He leaves a widow and a six-year-old son.

Joselito Agustin of DZJC Aksyon Radyo, a local station, was riding a motorcycle with his nephew in Laoag City, in the northern province of Illocos Norte, yesterday when he was shot four times by two men on another motorcycle. His nephew was wounded. Aged 37, Agustin died last night in hospital.

A colleague, Nick Malasig, said Agustin had receiving threatening SMS messages. “Joselito suspected that a local politician had him in his sights, a politician he had accused of corruption in his programme.” Sterling Blanco, the police officer in charge of the investigation, said shots were also fired at Agustin’s home last month.

A total of four journalists have been killed in the Philippines since the start of the month.