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Philippines: Fifth journalist killed this year

Fifth journalist killed this year

Reporters Without Borders expressed great concern today at the killing of radio journalist Rico Ramirez, apparently by the drug underworld he had criticised, in the town of San Francisco, in the Philippines province of Agusan del Sur (northern Mindanao island).

His death on 20 August (but only revealed today) came a day after the murder of radio journalist Noel Villarante and brought to five the number of journalists killed in the Philippines this year for doing their job.

"The impunity enjoyed by killers of journalists, especially in the case of Edgar Damalerio, encourages hitmen and those who hire them to physically eliminate critical media workers," the press freedom organisation said. "The government is partly responsible for this wave of violence, which makes the country one of the world's most dangerous for journalists."

It called on interior and local government minister José D. Lina and provincial governor Adolph Edward G. Plaza to see that police arrested and punished Ramirez' killers and urged the authorities to introduce a scheme to protect threatened journalists, as has been done by the Colombian government.

Ramirez, who worked for the radio station dzSF, was shot dead by two gunmen, who fired at him from behind about 100 metres from his place of work. The station manager, Max Tutor, who saw what happened, said police had not found any clues so far. But Ramirez' recent criticism of local organised crime and drug traffickers suggested these circles were responsible.

Ramirez was the 41st journalist killed since 1986, apparently because of his work. The other four murdered this year were Villarante, John Villanueva, of the radio station dzGB-AM (28 April), Apolinario "Polly" Podeba, of radio station dwTI-AM (17 May) and Bonifacio Gregorio, of the local weekly Dyaryo Banat (8 July).

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