Broadcaster shot dead in southern Philippines

DAVAO (AFP) - Gunmen shot dead a radio broadcaster in the violence-stricken southern Philippines on Friday - the latest in a string of deadly attacks on journalists, police said.

Mr Samuel Oliverio was driving his motorcycle with his wife riding pillion when he was attacked by two men on another motorcycle in Digos city, about 960km south of the Philippine capital.

"I heard a loud bang and thought one of the motorcycle's tyres had exploded. It was only after the second explosion that I realised Sammy had been shot," Mrs Rowena Oliverio said, using her husband's nickname.

The 57-year-old was a known critic of illegal gambling and drugs and worked as a commentator on Radio Ukay and Supreme Radio in Digos city on Mindanao island.

A press group said his death shows a failure by the government to stop journalists' murders amid a culture of impunity where some criminals believe political connections will help them avoid punishment.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said 32 media workers had been murdered since President Benigno Aquino took office in 2010, despite a pledge to take action.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Mr Aquino had ordered the justice department to investigate Mr Oliverio's murder.

"We fully respect the freedom of the press. We are serious in our resolve to make sure to prosecute the people who have committed these dastardly acts," he added.

A special justice department task force has separately been investigating the murder of journalists, Mr Lacierda said.

Mr Oliverio was the second Filipino broadcaster to be shot on Mindanao in less than three weeks, according to police. A tabloid reporter was also shot dead near Manila last month.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said 76 journalists had been murdered in the Philippines in connection with their work since 1992.

It placed the Philippines third in its "impunity index", indicating the most dangerous places for journalists to work.

In one of the worst instances of such crimes, 32 journalists were among 58 people kidnapped and massacred, allegedly by a powerful political clan, in the southern province of Maguindanao in Nov 2009.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.