A Philippine radio broadcaster from the central island of Negros has been shot useless, changing into the third media employee slain in Dumaguete Metropolis since 2018 and the 16th nationwide since President Rodrigo Duterte got here to workplace in June 2016.
Cornelio Pepino was driving house from work on his motorbike along with his spouse late on Tuesday when he was shot and killed, capping a turbulent 24 hours within the nation’s media trade, which additionally noticed the closure of its largest television network.
In accordance with the police report obtained by Al Jazeera, two unidentified male perpetrators on a bike shot and killed Pepino, also referred to as Rex Cornelio to radio listeners in the neighborhood.
Earlier than fleeing, the attackers shot the sufferer as soon as extra within the head, in line with a radio report quoting Pepino’s spouse, Colen.
The 48-year-old Pepino was rushed to a close-by hospital the place he was pronounced useless on arrival.
In a video, Colen, who was unhurt, was seen weeping and begging for assistance on her cell phone, whereas cradling her bleeding husband who was slumped subsequent to their overturned motorbike.
Police stated an investigation is “nonetheless ongoing”.
The Philippines is without doubt one of the world’s most harmful international locations for journalists, with a minimum of 186 media professionals killed because the nation’s return to democracy in 1986, in line with the Nationwide Union of Journalists within the Philippines (NUJP).
Media observers say the extent of impunity has reached an unprecedented stage since Duterte was elected president.
This newest media killing comes because the nation is beneath lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout the nation, police have arrange a number of checkpoints, elevating questions on how Pepino’s killers managed to flee.
Critic of presidency corruption
In his afternoon radio programme, Pepino was referred to as a critic of corruption in native authorities in Negros. He had additionally criticised the distribution of allegedly overpriced meals packs to communities affected by the coronavirus lockdown.
The administration of the radio station the place Pepino labored advised Al Jazeera it was “saddened and angered by the mindless and brutal killing”.
Whereas “hard-hitting” in his commentaries, colleagues had been quoted as saying the sufferer by no means used profanity and would by no means flare up with emotion on the radio.
“Authorities ought to depart no stone unturned in bringing the killers of journalist Rex Cornelio Pepino to justice,” stated Shawn Crispin, Committee to Shield Journalists senior Southeast Asia consultant.
“Till the Philippine authorities reveals it’s severe about fixing media murders, the vicious cycle of impunity will proceed.”
The Dumaguete Press Membership stated the assault could possibly be “politically motivated since politics was his favorite matter, which could have hit the nerve of some political sectors”, including that “divine justice in all its varieties will unmistakably come and be served”.
‘New stage of impunity’
In the meantime, the NUJP urged the Duterte administration to research the homicide instantly.
“We demand justice for Cornelio Pepino, aka Rex Cornelio, and can proceed to carry this authorities accountable for each loss of life that continues to be unsolved.”
[Statement] Justice for Rex Cornelio, 16th journalist slain beneath Duterte pic.twitter.com/AUO1Bi6dqt
— NUJP (@nujp) May 6, 2020
In an announcement, Joel Egco of the Presidential Process Drive on Media Safety vowed that “justice can be served” and that police have been directed “to search out the suspects”.
“As up to now instances we dealt with, we’ll depart no stone unturned,” Egco stated.
Maria Ela Atienza, professor of political science on the College of the Philippines, stated that whereas the killing of journalists and concentrating on of media firms are nothing new within the nation, “it acquired worse”.
“The extent of impunity and the killing of journalists and critics has been pushed to a brand new stage by the Duterte administration,” Atienza advised Al Jazeera.
Since changing into president, Duterte has been recognized to denounce the press for crucial protection of his administration, together with the lethal warfare on medication that left 1000’s of individuals useless.
He had beforehand cursed international journalists for his or her reporting and stated corrupt journalists are official targets of assassination.
On Tuesday, the nation’s largest media firm, ABS-CBN, which was a frequent goal of the president’s tirades, was pressured to close down after his allies in Congress refused to resume on time the station’s 25-year licence to function.
The federal government had additionally filed prices towards the Rappler web site and its editor, Maria Ressa and compelled the nation’s largest newspaper, The Philippine Day by day Inquirer, to promote the publication to billionaire Ramon Ang, a Duterte ally.
President Duterte, nevertheless, has repeatedly assured reporters that he welcomes questions from the media and that the nation nonetheless has a free press.
“I’ve nothing towards you. I’m not at liberty to [be] indignant at anyone,” stated Duterte.
Atienza stated that given Duterte’s recognition now as president, it’s shocking that “the extent of insecurity of his administration is so excessive it has to threaten and harass critics”.
— to www.aljazeera.com