Palace condemns latest killings against media

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Malacañang on Wednesday condemned the killing of Rogelio “Tata” Estrada Butalid, a commentator at the Radyo Natin, as it directed the police to hunt down the perpetrators of the crime.

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Butalid had just finished his radio program and was leaving the station when armed men blocked his path and shot him four times in Tagum, Davao del Norte.

Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said authorities are trying to determine the motive of the killing.

In the past weeks, two broadcasters were murdered in Mindanao particularly in the provinces of Bukidnon and Surigao del Sur. Police have not arrested any suspects in both killings.

The Agence France-Presse quoting regional police spokesman Chief Insp. Jed Clamor said Butalid was known for his fiery attacks on local issues, including corruption.

As a commentator, Butalib may have made enemies because of his program that tackled various local issues, including corruption, Clamor said.

However, the police is also looking at the possibility that his killing could be politically motivated because the victim was also elected to a hotly contested district post in October.

Butalib was the third journalist shot and killed in the southern Philippines in two weeks.

Michael Diaz Milo, a talk show host for DXFM radio, was killed in the city of Butuan Friday, while broadcaster Joas Dignos was murdered in the city of Valencia on November 29.

Unidentified gunmen shot and wounded a fourth radio journalist, Jonavin Villalbal, in the central city of Iloilo late Tuesday.

The suspects in all four attacks remain at large, police said.

“This is saddening and frustrating. Another one from our ranks is killed,” Rowena Paraan, chairwoman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, told Agence France-Presse.

She urged authorities to solve the murders quickly and condemned the apparent impunity for those who carry out the attacks.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists ranks the Philippines as the third-worst in its “impunity index” of countries that fail to combat violence against the press.

By its count, the committee has said at least 72 journalists had been killed in the Philippines since 1992, excluding the three latest deaths.

In November 2009, 32 journalists were among 58 people kidnapped and massacred in the southern Philippines, allegedly by members of a powerful Muslim clan. Of the 196 people charged in that case, 88 remain at large, and rights groups said families of the victims as well as witnesses remain under threat of retribution.

Four years after the killings, no one has yet been convicted. Despite recent moves to speed it up, the trial is expected to drag on for years in the country’s overburdened court system.

WITH REPORT FROM AFP

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