Reporters Without Borders welcomes the progress being made in the investigation into the fatal shooting of radio commentator Gerardo Ortega on 24 January in Puerto Princesa, on the western island of Palawan. The organization urges the police to pursue their efforts to shed light on this murder, which was clearly linked to the victim’s work as a journalist.
The gunman was arrested at the murder scene although an accomplice managed to escape. According to the police, the hitmen were offered 150,000 pesos that apparently came from influential persons with links to mining companies. The murder weapon’s owner is reported to be a lawyer who has backed local mining operations.
Puerto Princesa police chief Rolando Amurao told news media that the two people who paid the hitmen said their boss wanted to silence the journalist. Ortega often criticized the impact of mining operations on the island’s environment in his commentaries for Radio Mindanao Network dwAR.
Outspoken radio host gunned down
A local radio presenter with a reputation for outspokenness was shot in the head and killed today on the island of Palawan in the west of the Philippines. Gerardo Ortega hosted a daily program "Ramatak", on the station Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) dwAR. A man, identified as Marvin Alcaraz and said to be resident in Manila, is reported to have been arrested at the scene of the crime carrying a .45 caliber handgun and is being held in connection with the killing. No motive has been identified.
Reporters Without Borders conveys its total support to the family, friends and journalist colleagues of the victim and urges the local authorities to disclose swiftly the motive for the murder and the circumstances surrounding it.
“The organization is horrified by this act or savagery and calls once again on the government to guarantee the protection of journalists,” the press freedom body said.
“It is time that the promises of Benigno Aquino, president of the Philippines since July 2010, who announced better security for journalists in his country and an end to the culture of impunity, become a reality. Impunity remains the chief evil corroding the country.”
At the moment of his death Gerardo Ortega, also known as "Doc Gerry" was in a clothes shop in the town of Puerto Princesa, capital of Palawan province, almost 600 km south of Manila. The family lawyer Joselito Alisuag said the killing had to be linked to his work as a journalist since he had “no personal enemies or particular vice.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) says 142 journalists have been killed since the restoration of democracy in 1986. The country was in 156th place in the world press freedom rankings drawn up by Reporters Without Borders in 2010. It is one of the most violent countries in the world for journalists. Local radio presenters are especially exposed to threats and attacks.