The sound of crack-thumping bullets continues to hound members of the media.
On Thursday, police confirmed the shooting of broadcast blocktimer inside a public bus in Barangay San Roque, Cebu City, exactly eight days after Manila Standard correspondent Jesus Malabanan was shot dead inside his home, also in the Visayas.
Police Major Edgar Labe, Cebu’s Waterfront Police Station 3 chief, identified the victim as Rico Osmeña, who was immediately rushed to the hospital.
Osmeña was at radio station dyLA for his radio program from 11 a.m. to noon. He left the radio station at 12:15 p.m. and took a public bus.
Initial police investigation said the lone gunman boarded the bus when it stopped to pick up a passenger then shot Osmeña twice.
Witnesses said the gunman left onboard a motorcycle.
Last July 22, radio blocktimer Reynante Cortes, 47, was shot dead in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City outside the building housing his radio station.
No suspect has thus far been charged but his wife said their family had received threats for a year.
In related developments, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontieres) has said there are currently 488 media professionals imprisoned around the world, the highest number since it began counting more than 25 years ago.
By contrast, the number killed this year – 46 – was the lowest since it began issuing annual tallies, due to the relative stabilization of conflicts in the Middle East.
“The number of journalists detained in connection with their work has never been this high since RSF began publishing its annual round-up in 1995,” the NGO, which battles for freedom of the press, said in a statement.
The number has risen by some 20 percent over the past year thanks largely to crackdowns on the media in Myanmar, Belarus and Hong Kong.
RSF said it had also never seen so many female journalists detained, with the overall number of 60 representing a third more than 2020.
China leads the way for imprisoned journalists with 127, thanks in large part to the national security law it imposed on Hong Kong, undermining many of its long-standing democratic freedoms.
Myanmar was second with 53, followed by Vietnam (43), Belarus (32) and Saudi Arabia (31).
The falling number of deaths since a peak in 2016 reflects changing dynamics in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, where a reduction in conflict means fewer journalists have been drawn to the region.
Most of the 46 killings were assassinations: “65 percent were deliberately targeted and eliminated,” the report said.
The most dangerous countries were once again Mexico and Afghanistan, with seven and six journalist deaths respectively, followed by Yemen and India with four apiece.
RSF also counted 65 journalists and colleagues held as hostages around the world.
All are in the Middle East – Syria (44), Iraq (11) and Yemen (9) – apart from French journalist Olivier Dubois, held in Mali since April.
A “people’s tribunal” to achieve justice for murdered journalists opened in The Hague last month to defend media freedoms in an age of increasing authoritarianism and populism.
Set up by a coalition of press freedom organizations, the hearings lasting six months will focus on the unsolved cases of three journalists murdered in Mexico, Sri Lanka and Syria.
While it has no legal powers to convict anyone, the tribunal aims to raise awareness, pressure governments and gather evidence through what it calls its form of “grassroots justice.”
The tribunal was organized by Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and Reporters Without Borders.