MANILA, Philippines?A journalist was killed on Saturday in Digos City, Davao del Sur, bringing to three the number of media workers slain in just five days.
Nestor Bedolido, a writer for the local weekly Kastigador, was buying cigarettes at the corner of Rizal and Quezon avenues when a man shot him at past 7 p.m., police said.
During the elections, Bedolido was suspected of writing exposés against a politician in Davao del Sur.
?I believe the killing of my father is politically motivated. There is a politician involved,? his son, Marxlen, 22, told reporters.
Bedolido, in his late 40s, became the 103rd media worker murdered in the country since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power in 2001.
On Monday night, a broadcaster was shot dead in Mindanao. Less than 24 hours after, a radio commentator was gunned down in northern Luzon.
The murder of the three journalists came after the expiration on June 9 of the five-month gun ban, which was imposed in connection with the May 10 general elections.
Inquirer archives show that no journalist was killed during the election campaign when the gun ban was in effect.
In November 2009, 32 media workers were among the 57 people killed in a massacre blamed on a political warlord in Maguindanao.
The Philippines is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.
Chief Insp. Anthony Padua said Bedolido was hit six times in the body.
After shooting Bedolido, the killer casually walked to a waiting motorcycle driven by a still unidentified man, Padua said.
Padua said bystanders rushed the journalist to Gonzales Hospital. In a report, police said Bedolido was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Padua said the police were still trying to investigate the motive and identity of the killer. The weekly that Bedolido was writing for was allegedly financed by a group of politicians.
Critic of illegal logging
The two broadcasters killed earlier in the week were known to be critics of illegal loggers and corrupt officials.
On the night of June 14, Desidario Camangyan, 52, was killed while hosting a singing contest in Manay town, Davao Oriental province.
As Camangyan of Sunrise FM in Mati City was introducing a contestant, a lone assailant sneaked from behind and shot him in the head.
The broadcaster was killed in full view of the audience, including his wife and 6-year-old son.
Camangyan was known for speaking out against powerful groups involved in illegal logging in Davao Oriental.
The next day, radio commentator Joselito Agustin was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men in Ilocos Norte.
Agustin, 37, of dzJC Aksyon Radyo in Laoag City, died while undergoing treatment at the hospital. He had just come from his dzJC radio program, ?Laoag City by day, Ilocos Norte by night.?
He was known as an outspoken critic of corrupt local officials.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the killings and pressed President-elect Benigno Aquino III to ensure the murders were quickly solved.
?The enemies of press freedom are on a killing spree,? said NUJP vice chair Nonoy Espina.
?But it is more than that. It shows that the level of impunity is just so high that they believe they can get away with murder no matter who sits as president,? Espina added. ?Aquino has to hit the ground running from Day One.?
Detlev Mehlis, who leads an EU-funded program helping to train police and prosecutors in solving the killings, said he was outraged by the wave of murders this week.
?This is simply unacceptable. In a democracy, freedom of the press is essential,? Mehlis told Agence France Presse.
?It?s the job of government to protect its people. These crimes should be solved and we are ready to assist in any way we can.?
A human rights watchdog said the killing of Camangyan showed that outgoing President Arroyo was leaving a legacy of impunity.
?Camangyan was apparently among the few who stood and defied the consequences and was bold enough to denounce the environmental plunder and political abuse. His killers knew that Camangyan was a threat who must be stopped,? said Bishop Felixberto Calang, one of the convenors of Barug Katungod Mindanao.
Calang said his group was holding Ms Arroyo accountable for the deaths of Camangyan and those of other human rights defenders and journalists killed under her administration.
In Laoag City, Melvin de la Cuesta, president of the Media Active in Ilocos Norte, said local media workers planned to mount a rally next week to express their grief over Agustin?s slaying and to protest the inability of the government to stop the attacks on journalists.
Nora Root, a dzJC commentator and Agustin?s friend, said she and her colleagues would continue to make noise until the brains behind the murder was identified and jailed.
Reporters, anchors and other station personnel have started wearing white ribbons to mourn Agustin?s death and to protest against people behind the killing.
Root said dzJC commentators were mindful of the fact that all the Ilocos Norte broadcasters shot dead over the past six years came from dzJC. Roger Mariano and Andy Acosta, both dzJC commentators, were gunned down in 2004 and 2006, respectively.
?This pattern has made us more conscious of our responsibilities as truth tellers. We have been advised to revisit the Radio Code as our ultimate safeguard,? Root said.
Earlier, Chief Supt. Constante Azares Jr., Ilocos police director, said the case could be considered solved with the identification of the suspected gunman.
Azares said murder charges would be filed against Leonardo Banaag, a Bacarra resident, who was tagged as the suspected trigger man in the June 15 attack on Agustin.
Banaag and another suspect, however, have yet to be arrested. With reports from Jeffrey M. Tupas, Inquirer Mindanao; Cristina Arzadon, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Agence France-Presse