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Journalist shot dead in Mindanao

Broadcaster was outspoken critic of local influential figures

<p>Journalists held a protest last week to condemn a series of media killings in the country. (Photo by Rene Sandajan)</p>

Journalists held a protest last week to condemn a series of media killings in the country. (Photo by Rene Sandajan)

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • December 2, 2013
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A radio broadcaster in the southern Philippines was shot dead in Mindanao on Friday evening, worsening the country's record as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

Joas Dignos, a broadcaster for local radio DXGT and who was known for criticizing local officials, was shot in the head by gunmen in Valencia City.

Dignos had previously received death threats. In June, a grenade was hurled at the DXGT station while one of Dignos's commentaries was being aired.

The killing "really looks like it was work-related because he has no known enemies in his personal life, only those who objected to his program," said Joseph Deveza, safety coordinator for the National Union of Journalists in Mindanao.

New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists ranks the Philippines as the world’s third worst in its "impunity index" of countries that fail to fight violence against the press.

It said at least 72 Filipino journalists had been murdered since 1992, not counting the case of Dignos. 

Human Rights Watch claims 24 journalists have been murdered since President Benigno Aquino took office in 2010.

“The killing of another Filipino journalist should prompt the Aquino administration to revisit its views about media killings in the Philippines and, more importantly, ensure that this recent murder and the ones before it are investigated fully," said Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director.

"We condemn the killing of radio commentator Joas Dignos," presidential spokesman Sonny Coloma told ucanews.com.

"We reiterate the government’s commitment to solving the killings of journalists, broadcasters and media practitioners through the combined efforts of all government agencies concerned," he said.

The killing of journalists and broadcasters in the Philippines has been blamed on the country's "culture of impunity" where powerful people feel they are able to commit abuses without being punished.

In November 2009, at least 32 journalists were among 58 people kidnapped and killed allegedly by a powerful political clan in the province of Maguindanao.

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