A radio announcer from Negros Oriental province, in the central Philippines, was killed last night by gunmen who shot him from a motorcycle, the sixteenth journalist who was violently killed during the mandate of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The victim, Cornelio Pepino, 48, worked at the community radio station DyMD Energy in the city of Dumaguete, where two other journalists have been killed since 2018, the National Union of Philippine Journalists (NUJP) reported.
The announcer was attacked while riding his motorcycle with his wife, when another motorcycle with two occupants approached and shot at it against Cornelio, who was pronounced dead when he entered the Silliman University Hospital.
Police do not rule out that the attack is directly related to his work as a reporter, said Lt. Allen June Germondo, who is in charge of the investigation.
Cornelio was sued for defamation in 2014 by Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo, but was acquitted in 2017.
According to NUJP data, Cornelio’s would be the 188 journalist killed for his work in the Philippines, one of the most lethal countries in Asia for those who work in the media.
In 2009, the Ampatuan Massacre occurred, an episode of electoral violence in the south of the country in which 68 people were killed, including 32 reporters, for what is considered the largest killing of journalists in the world.
The brains of the massacre, members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, were not sentenced to life in prison until last December, ten years after the crime, and for that delay, the Philippines has occupied the top positions on the list of countries with the greatest impunity for a decade. in attacks on journalists.
Cornelio’s murder occurred the same day that the National Telecommunications Commission ordered the closure of ABS-CBN, the country’s largest media group, upon the expiration of his license, another symptom of the poor health of press freedom in the Philippines.
Since Duterte came to power on June 30, 2016, there have been up to 172 attacks on the press: 16 murders, 33 acts of intimidation, 10 arrests, 12 violent assaults and 17 defamation charges, according to a study by NUJP and the Center for Press Freedom and Responsibility, presented last Sunday on the occasion of International Press Freedom Day.