Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn that Aldion Layao, a local politician and radio journalist, was gunned down as he was returning to his home near Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao, on the evening of 8 April.
“We appreciate the speed with which the local police reacted to Layao’s murder,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Philippine media nonetheless continue to be exposed to an appalling level of violence that needs a proper government programme for the protection of journalists. Although Layao occupied a local government position, the police should not rule out the possibility that his murder was linked to his journalistic work.”
Layao, 34, was gunned down in his car by two men on a motorcycle as he was nearing his home in Lacson, a village in Calinan district, on the outskirts of Davao City, at around 9:30 p.m. on 8 April. The gunmen approached his car and shot him three times. He was rushed to Robillo Hospital in Davao City and was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
The regional police, who have created a special task force to investigate the murder, reportedly found three spent shells from a .45 calibre pistol at the scene of the murder. One of the passengers in Layao’s car said the gunmen were on a red Honda XRM motorcycle with no licence plate and had their heads covered.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines quoted local police chief Ronald Dela Rosa as saying the police were working on the assumption that the murder was linked to Layao’s political activities but had not ruled out other possibilities.
Layao, who worked for GMA Super Radyo before becoming village chief in 2010, had quarrelled with members of the local council in the past. He also worked for dxRP radio.
Asia’s first murder of a journalists in 2012 took place in the Philippines, which continues to be one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media and which was ranked 140th out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.