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Third journalist killed in Mindanao in 11 days

Philippine media worker killings approach epidemic proportions reporter, Manila

December 11, 2013

A radio broadcaster was shot dead in Tagum City in Davao del Norte province on Wednesday morning, the third journalist killed in the past 11 days in restive Mindanao.

A lone gunman reportedly shot and killed Rogelio Estrada Butalid at close range in front of his workplace, Radyo Natin, where he hosted The Truth show.

In his last broadcast, Butalid discussed a dispute between two electric cooperatives who were sponsoring the show, radio station Manager Elmer Tandoc said.

“We are looking at the possibility that he was killed because of his profession,” police spokesman Chief Inspector Jed Clamor told reporters.

Butalid’s killing comes just days after assassins murdered two other broadcasters in Mindanao – Joas Dignos, who was shot dead on November 29 in Bukidnon province, and Michael Milo, who was killed on Friday in Surigao del sur.

On Tuesday evening another radio journalist, Jonavin Villalba, was shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen in Iloilo province in the Western Visayas, north of Mindanao. He was reported to be in stable condition.

“When will this ever stop?” Said Benny Antiporda, president of the National Press Club. “How can we say there is press freedom in this country when we are being massacred?”

The killings come after presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma said in a press briefing on November 22 that “it’s justified to say there is no more impunity” when it comes to killings targeting the media.

"There is too much killing and very little action on the part of authorities. Nothing changes," said Rowena Paraan, head of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines.

The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said Butalid was the 21st media worker killed in the Philippines during President Benigno Aquino’s three and a half years in office.

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

The CPJ said at least 72 Filipino journalists have been murdered since 1992, not counting the cases of Dignos, Milo and now Butalid.

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