11/13/2004, 00.00
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Photo-journalist killed in Jolo

by Sonny Evangelista
He was supposed to take video footage for a documentary on Ramadan in the Philippines.

Jolo (AsiaNews) – Gene Boyd Lumawag, 26, photo editor of the independent news agency Mindanao News, was shot dead execution-style yesterday afternoon in the commercial area of Jolo (Mindanao). A lone gunman fired a calibre .45 bullet into his forehead. Mr Boyd was on his way to the pier to take video footage of the sunset as part of a documentary on Ramadan.

Although there were people in the area, no one came forward to provide evidence about the incident. In Jolo the code of silence is part of the local culture and too many people are afraid to speak for fear of retaliation.

Colleagues of the murder journalist were dismayed. "No one on the crime scene could tell me how it happened," said Mindanews editor Carol Arguillas who was with him in Jolo. "Not even the police or the Marines."

Both editor and photo-journalist had gone to Jolo to make a documentary on eid ul-Fitr, the feast day commemorates the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Investigators late yesterday evening said that the killer probably belonged to an urban terrorist group, referring most likely to the Abu Sayyaf group, which has been held responsible for several abductions and murders.

For several years now the city of Jolo has seen clashes and violence by Islamic extremists. Among the victims Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, who was killed on February 4, 1997, in front of the cathedral. His murderers are still at large protected by the code of silence.  

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