GUNMEN have shot dead a local radio reporter in Mindanao, one of the most dangerous countries for media workers in the world, police and an industry watchdog said Wednesday.
Elvis Ordaniza, 49, of the dxWO radio station in Pagadian City, became the first journalist killed this year in the country, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
He became the 31st journalist or media worker to have been killed in the Philippines since President Benigno Aquino III came to power in mid-2010, according to a union tally.
“He is a former communist guerrilla who surrendered and went to work in the media industry,” the union’s deputy secretary-general Fred Villareal told AFP.
“He had been reporting about illegal drugs, although we do not know if either was a motive,” he added.
Two unknown gunmen barged into Ordaniza’s home around 7:10 p.m. Tuesday in Purok Bagong Silang, Barangay Poblacion in Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur and shot him dead while he was preparing dinner for his family, regional police director Miguel Antonio said.
Zamboanga del Sur provincial police director Supt. Michael Nicolas said he ordered Pitogo police Chief Insp. Orlyn Leyte to conduct a thorough investigation of the killing.
Nicolas’ order is addressed to Chief Insp. Orlyn Leyte, Pitogo police chief, after he received report about the killing of Elvis Ordaniza, 49 of dxWO Power 99 FM of the Times Broadcasting Network based in the city.
Leyte said Ordaniza was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival by the attending physician.
Ordaniza, who handles a public affairs program, is known to be critical against illegal gambling activities and proliferation of prohibited drugs in this province.
Mindanao is a hotbed of Islamic militancy, which has claimed over 100,000 lives there since the 1970s.
Known for its outspoken press, the Philippines is among the world’s most dangerous places for reporters, where powerful figures reckon on being able to kill critics with impunity.
Only 10 suspects have been convicted of attacks on journalists across the country over the three decades since the country embraced democracy in 1986, during which time more than 170 media workers have been killed, Villareal said.
While many of the victims had angered powerful figures, police say some of the killings were motivated by quarrels over personal or business matters.
One of the world’s deadliest attacks against journalists took place in the Philippines in 2009, when 32 journalists were among 58 people killed by a warlord clan intent on stopping a rival’s election challenge.
More than one hundred people are on trial for the massacre.