On January 9, 2019 another radio announcer in the Philippines was killed by an unidentified assailant. The motive behind his death is unknown, and it will take a thorough investigation by the authorities before it can be established whether it was work-related.
The latest victim, John Michael Decano, who was a broadcaster with Pasalinggaya dwPY 88.1 FM Radio, in Sorsogon City, located in the Bicol region of Luzon island, was killed. He was found dead in a massage parlor. Unconfirmed reports indicate he was smashed over the head with a portable cement stove.
The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) is deeply alarmed that in just a span of two weeks two broadcasters have been killed in the Philippines, including Decano.
On 28 December 2018, radio announcer Gabriel Alburo of 94.5 dyJL FM in Guihulngan in La Libertad, Negros Oriental, located in Central Visayas region, was felled by a bullet by unknown assailants.
To date 14 print and broadcast journalists have been murdered since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in June 2016. Of these, 12 were radio announcers, including Decano and Alburo
SEAPA has on more than one occasion expressed grave concern over the culture of impunity that surrounds journalist deaths in the Philippines and has called on authorities to take action. That the spate of killings of journalists in the country shows no sign of abating is extreme cause for concern.
SEAPA is thus renewing its appeal to President Duterte to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice while giving utmost priority to honest-to-goodness, no-nonsense investigations of the remaining unresolved cases of media killings in the Philippines.
Impunity remains a pressing issue in the Philippine media. The country ranked fifth on the 2018 Global Impunity Index of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. It is the only country in Southeast Asia to make the list.
Every journalist death is one too many, and as the numbers pile up, nothing less than swift action toward the resolution of these cases and the prevention of similar incidents is needed. Now more than ever.