World News

Gunman kills radio reporter in Philippine south

MANILA (Reuters) - A reporter at a state-owned radio station on the Philippines’ southernmost island of Tawi-tawi was shot dead by a gunman while on his way to work on Monday, the regional police chief said.

Joel Goltiao said Vincent Sumalpong of the government-owned Radyo ng Bayan (People’s Radio) network was shot while driving his motorcycle. His companion was wounded.

“He was killed on the spot from several bullet wounds in the body,” Goltiao told reporters.

“We’re still investigating whether the attack was work-related because the radio station was beset by labour problems.”

Goltiao said police were also looking into reports Sumalpong had “some personal problems” and the attack could be triggered by an old grudge.

He was the third reporter killed in the country this year, according to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines.

Fifty-two reporters have been killed since January 2001 when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was swept into power after an army-backed popular revolt, and the Philippines has been labeled one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists.

Hundreds of leftists and opponents of the government have also disappeared or been killed in what rights group say is a systematic pattern of intimidation.

Two weeks ago, Arroyo promised to end “this cycle of violence once and for all”, asking security forces and state prosecutors to solve the journalist killings and bring those behind the murders to justice.

In February, a U.N. special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings said the Philippine military was responsible for many of the deaths. Right groups say up to 800 people have been killed since Arroyo came to power.

A team of rights experts from the European Union is currently in the country to provide help and technical assistance in investigating and solving the murders.