05/31/2023, 18.30
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Third Philippine journalist killed since Marcos Jr is president

by Stefano Vecchia

Two unidentified hitmen gunned down Cresenciano Aldovino Bunduquin. Despite some improvement as reported by Reporters Without Borders, press freedom in the Philippines is still under threat. Radio broadcasters are particularly affected.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Cresenciano Aldovino Bunduquin is the third journalist to be assassinated since Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr took office on 30 June 2022.

From the day of his inauguration to April 30 of this year, some 60 violations of media freedom were reported, with targeted media workers often labelled as agitators or supporters of the country’s ongoing communist insurgency.

Like other murders involving people in the media, Bunduquin's death came in an ambush. Two unidentified hitmen shot the well-known radio broadcaster outside a store in Calapan City, Mindoro Island. Taken to hospital, he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

When the assailants fled the scene of the crime on a motorbike, the journalist's son chased them on his car and hit one who was killed while the other was able to escape.

Bunduquin, 50, worked at DWXR Kalahi Radio. His death comes seven months after that of his colleague Percy Lapid, murdered in Las Piñas, Metro Manila.

Investigators have asked for the public’s help, urging witnesses to come forward, but at present, no motive has been disclosed.

Those who knew the journalist believe that the investigation should look at his work and the people he might have rattled.

In the Philippines, radio is king of information media. It is no accident that most of the media people killed between the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 and the first year of his son’s presidency worked in radio, 101 out of 198.

Regardless of what the investigation might deliver, the Philippines remains one of the countries where a journalist's job is a risky business.

In its latest update on world press freedom in early May, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) notes a certain improvement in the Southeast Asian country; however, it still ranks low, 132 out of 180, in terms of press freedom.

According to RSF, “The Philippine media are extremely vibrant despite the government’s targeted attacks and constant harassment, since 2016,[*] of journalists and media outlets that are too critical.”

The press freedom advocacy NGO goes on to say that Philippine journalists were unsettled by Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr’s election given his father’s precedent.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Congress is examining ways to counter the spread of “fake news”.

[*] Year when Rodrigo Duterte was elected president.

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