Another Journalist is Gunned Down in the Philippines

Richel V. Umel
Iligan, Philippines
2021-10-31
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Another Journalist is Gunned Down in the Philippines Orlando Dinoy, a Philippine journalist who was slain at the weekend, is shown in this undated photograph released by Newsline Philippines, his employer.
Courtesy Newsline Philippines

A journalist has died after being shot by a gunman at his home in the southern Philippines on Saturday night, police and media watchdogs said Sunday, the latest media worker to be killed in a country notoriously unsafe for reporters.

The gunman shot reporter Orlando Dinoy six times after forcibly entering his home in Bansalan, a town in Davao del Sur province, at around 6 p.m. on Saturday, but the motive remained unclear, authorities said.

The killing of Dinoy, who worked for Newsline Philippines and as an anchor for Energy FM, a radio station, brought to 21 the number of journalists slain in the Philippines since the Duterte administration took power in 2016. The Southeast Asian country has one of the world’s poorest reputations for safeguarding journalists and punishing the killers of reporters.

An investigation was under way to pin down the motive behind Dinoy’s death, said Joel Sy Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), a government body.

Egco condemned in “the strongest terms this heinous crime against a respected member of the media.”

“The PTFoMS wishes to extend its deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Dondon Dinoy. We are greatly saddened for your loss,” Egco said.

Dinoy, who was a member of the LGBTQ community, died after the attack by “a still unidentified suspect,” he said.

The task force he heads has direct supervision over police in the investigations of killings of reporters.

He said the police were instructed to carry out a complete and thorough investigation into the incident.

“Even if the motive seems to be a personal matter, the Task Force will see to it that justice will be served to those responsible for Dinoy’s death,” Egco said without elaborating.

Police under Brig. Gen. Filmore Escobal, the regional police chief, already have “strong leads,” Egco said.

“One of the angles we are looking for is his work as a media man,” Maj. Peter Glenn Ipong, the municipal police chief in Bansalan, told Agence France-Presse.

Edith Caduaya, president of the Mindanao Independent Press Council, said Dinoy was not known to have enemies.

However, the victim had reportedly been urged to run for vice-mayor in the locality, and police have taken that into account, she said.

Citing unsolved murders of media workers, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists last week kept the Philippines on its annual list of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

CPJ, via its Global Impunity Index, ranked the Philippines as the seventh-worst country in the world for reporters, saying that 13 murders of journalists remained unsolved there.

The Philippines is to hold local and national polls next year, and killings linked to politics tend to spike during the electoral season. In May, John Heredia, a former journalist-turned-local politician, was ambushed and killed in the central province of Capiz, but six months later, his killing remains unsolved.

President Rodrigo Duterte has often vowed to protect journalists, whom he has praised as playing a crucial role in advancing democracy. At the same time, however, he has frequently attacked the press, often reserving his vitriol for those who have questioned his administration’s controversial drug war. He has also warned the press that “just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch.”

His allies in Congress last year voted to shut down television network ABS-CBN Corp. while the head of online news site Rappler, Maria Ressa, was also convicted of cyber libel, but remains free pending an appeal.

On Oct. 8, Ressa and a Russian colleague, newspaper editor Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov, were named co-recipients of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their respective work as crusading journalists who champion free speech and freedom of the press.

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