Aaron Golipardo, a member of the national police, was arrested on 24 May 2006 for the murder of radio dyPR presenter Fernando Batul. Four witnesses identified Golipardo as the person who shot Batul from a motorcycle on 22 May. The person who was on the motorcycle with Golipardo has not yet been identified.
Regional police chief Raul Genio said the motive for the murder may have been Batul’s comments about Golipardo’s violent behaviour. Batul had accused Golipardo on the air of threatening a waitress with his pistol. The police said Golipardo had already been accused of links to other murders.
A fifth journalist killed since start of 2006
Reporters Without Borders expressed dismay at the murder on 22 May 2006 of Fernando Batul, a commentator on dyPR radio, shot dead by two men on a motorbike as he was on his way to work in Puerto Princesa on Palawan island (south-west of Manila). Provincial police chief Elpidio de Asis said the killing was probably linked to his work.
The press freedom organisation said that murders of journalists investigating corruption were a frequent occurrence and that, after Iraq, the Philippines was viewed as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. A press photographer was murdered there less than a week ago.
Police said the murder of Batul appeared to be the work of hired killers and the instigators were most likely local officials whose corruption the journalist had exposed. He had just uncovered and broadcast a case of illegal recruitment of workers in which officials were implicated.
The respected journalist was the target of an earlier attack on 24 April 2006 when two grenades were thrown into his home in Puerto Princesa but failed to detonate. His attackers had left a letter written in red ink in front of his house threatening to kill him and advising him to “hold his tongue”.
“We urge the investigators to give full consideration to the professional lead,” said Reporters Without Borders. “We also call on the authorities to do their utmost to improve the security of journalists in the country and to fight against impunity,” it added.
This latest killing comes less than one week after the murder of journalist Albert Orsolino. Two men shot dead the photographer of the tabloid Saksi Ngayon in Caloocan, north of Manila on 16 May. A link with his work also seemed highly likely since he often worked on sensitive cases.