Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: July 23, 2021 02:21 AM GMT
An image of Reynante Cortes from his Facebook page.
A veteran commentator has been shot dead outside his radio station in Cebu City in the Philippines.
Reynante “Rey” Cortes had just emerged from DYRB-AM radio station after finishing his program when he was reportedly approached by two men on a motorbike at about 9am on July 22.
One of them shot Cortes in the chest before they made their escape.
Cortes’ radio technician said no one heard a shot and staff were told what had happened by bystanders who witnessed the shooting.
The commentator was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
Police have yet to establish a motive for his murder, which drew swift condemnation.
Killings will continue if our leaders do not change the climate of violence and impunity in the Philippines
The Union of Journalists in the Philippines described Cortes’ death as an attack against press freedom.
“We … demand justice for his death. We call for a swift and impartial investigation into the incident,” it said in a statement, adding that Cortes had survived a previous attempt on his life.
“Attacks against journalists and media workers continue to rise and are being normalized simply for fulfilling our duties as watchdogs of society,” it added.
There have been at least 223 attacks on and threats made against members of the media during the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and more than 170 journalists have been killed since 1986, according to the group.
“The Philippines ranks 136th out of 180 countries on the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, which shows the state of press freedom in this country under the Duterte regime,” said a member of the group who wished to remain anonymous.
Society of Divine Word Father Flavie Villanueva also condemned the killing, saying more will occur if peace-loving leaders are not elected in next year’s polls.
“Killings will continue if our leaders do not change the climate of violence and impunity in the Philippines,” Father Villanueva told UCA News.
He said that although there is a risk in telling the truth, Catholics must believe that truth and justice will prevail in the end.
“It is disheartening at times when evil seems to overpower good. But let us not lose hope. Divine justice will still prevail no matter what,” Father Villanueva added.