Broadcaster shot dead; 6th under Aquino

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Iriga City—A gunman shot dead a radio commentator early on Monday while he was driving his motorcycle on his way to work, police said.

Romeo Olea, 49, of dwEB-FM based in Nabua town, just outside Iriga City, was the sixth media person killed under President Aquino’s watch and the 145th since democracy was restored in 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

Malacañang condemned the killing. “Mr. Olea was a crusading journalist, who exposed irregularities, for which he had been receiving threats to his life,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a statement.

Coloma said the Palace was seeking prompt action on the case.

Olea was en route to his radio station for his daily morning program when he was shot twice in the back at 5:52 a.m. in front of Holy Child Learning Center at Barangay San Jose in Iriga City, according to SPO2 Miguelio Borromeo.

Residents rushed Olea to nearby Rinconada Medical Center, where Olea was pronounced dead, Borromeo said.

Investigators found two empty 9mm shells at the scene. The ambush took place along the route that Olea usually took to the radio station.

Borromeo said investigators were looking into the possibility that the killing was related to Olea’s work.

Olea’s wife reported that her husband had received death threats, Senior Supt. Victor Deona told Agence France-Presse.

“There is a very big possibility that this is work-related,” Deona said.

However, Deona said Olea’s wife was still too traumatized to give details about the threats, and that investigators still needed to review the victim’s broadcasts to see if he may have angered powerful interests.

2nd staff killed

It was the second killing of a dwEB journalist in less than a year.

Miguel Belen, a dwEB commentator, was fatally shot in what police said may have been a politically motivated killing in July last year. No one has been arrested for the crime.

Deona said he could not say if the two killings were linked.

Olea’s daily show, “Anything Goes,” discussed issues concerning Iriga City’s government, the French news agency reported.

NUJP chair Nestor Burgos said he was “shocked” by the incident but that he was still trying to get more details on what happened.

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.

Press freedom campaign

The Burgos Media Center, a militant group of concerned Filipinos working in corporate and alternative media, announced on Monday it would launch a campaign to educate students on press freedom issues.

Marc Joseph Alejo, the spokesperson for the center named after the late press freedom fighter Joe Burgos, said the campaign was aimed at challenging the Aquino administration to ensure the safety of journalists in the Philippines.

The group also slammed the slow progress in the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, which seeks to grant citizens access to public records regarded as crucial in the fight against corruption. With reports from Mar Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon, Norman Bordadora and Kristine Felisse Mangunay in Manila, and AFP

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