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Fourth journalist in one month murdered

BANGKOK (Mabuhay) : Radio journalist and current affairs commentator, Fernando Solijon, became the fourth journalist to be murdered in The Philippines in the last four weeks, when he was shot dead in Iligan City on August 29 by two unidentified men on a motorcycle as he was walking to his car.

Solijon had been dining with a friend in Bur-un village on the outskirts of Iligan City in northern Mindanao, when gunshots broke the silence of the night air around 10.30pm.

Media reports say he was shot several times at close range in the head, abdomen and shoulder. They add that police investigators recovered a number of shells from a .45 calibre handgun from the scene.

Solijon was a radio commentator with DxLS Love Radio in Iligan City. Doctors declared him dead on arrival at a local hospital.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement released on August 30 from Bangkok, Thailand, that on his regular radio programme, Solijon was highly critical of local politicians.

“His past reports included accusations that village-level officials were involved in the illegal drug trade,” it says.

“He was also known to maintain close ties with Iligan City representative Vicente (Varf) Belmonte, who strongly condemned the attack in a text message sent to local reporters, according to news reports and the National Union of Journalists, a local press freedom advocacy group,” the statement continues.

“How many more journalists must be killed before President Benigno Aquino makes a genuine commitment to ending the cycle of impunity in media murders in The Philippines?” Shawn Crispin, from the committee is asking.

“We call on the government to quickly establish the motive behind Fernando Solijon’s killing and bring his killers to justice,” he continues.

At least three other journalists have been killed in The Philippines over the past calendar month. On July 30, newspaper columnists, Richard Kho and Bonifacio Loreto, were shot and killed by motorcycle-riding assailants in the Quezon City area of the capital Manila.

On August 1, freelance photographer Mario Sy was shot and killed by an unidentified gunman who entered his home in southern General Santos City.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says it is investigating the circumstances behind the murders to determine if they are related to the victims’ work in the media.

At least 73 Philippine journalists have been killed in direct connection to their work since 1992, making The Philippines the second deadliest country in the world for the press.

The statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists claims that at least 55 journalists have been murdered in the past decade and all cases are unresolved.

 

The Philippines ranks third on the committee’s Impunity Index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.