Gunmen kill journalist in southern Philippines

MANILA Fri Jan 6, 2012 1:45am EST

MANILA Jan 6 (Reuters) - Gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead a radio commentator and newspaper publisher on his way home late on Thursday in the southern Philippines, the first journalist to be killed in the country this year, a journalists' group said.

Christopher Guarin, 41, a radio talk show host and newspaper publisher in General Santos City, was shot six times in the head and body while driving home with his wife and nine-year-old daughter, according to a statement by Rowena Paraan, executive coordinator of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

His wife was also wounded in the attack and his daughter was in a state of shock after witnessing the murder of her father, said Freddie Solinap, manager of "Tatak", a community newspaper where Guarin worked as editor.

"I suspect this has something to do with his business as newspaper publisher and editor," Solinap told reporters, adding that Guarin had been getting death threats on his mobile phone. "He even read the threatening messages in his radio programme."

About 150 journalists had been killed in the Philippines since 1986, the NUJP said. Nine had been killed since President Benigno Aquino assumed office in mid-2010.

That tally includes at least 33 journalists in a massacre of 57 people in the southern Philippines in 2009, which the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says is the world's single deadliest event for journalists. (Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco and Yoko Nishikawa)