Reporters Without Borders today condemned the murder of Armando Pace, the presenter of a programme on local radio station DXDS on the southern island of Mindanao, who was gunned down yesterday by two men on a motorcycle. He is ninth journalist to be murdered in the Philippines this year.
“The police should not rule out the possibility that Pace’s murder was linked to his work as a journalist,” the organisation said. “A very thorough investigation is needed to establish who was responsible and what their motives were. If it turns out he was killed on account of what he said on the air, the authorities will be indirectly to blame because of the climate of impunity they have allowed to take hold in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao.”
Pace was shot in the head and chest as he was returning home. He died of his injuries within minutes of being rushed to hospital. The gunmen have not been identified.
He was not employee of DXDS. He rented the airtime for his programme, called ‘Ukadyang.’ He used to have a reputation for being very critical of certain local politicians and speaking out about drug trafficking. But he had become less acerbic in his comments since starting the radio programme, and focused above all on development issues. The editor of DXDS said Pace had not received any threats but was often the target of lawsuits.
He is the 23 journalist to be killed since Gloria Arroyo became president in January 2001. The level of impunity is such that only one of these 23 murders had resulted in a conviction. The Philippines were ranked this year and last year as “the world’s second most dangerous country for journalists, after Iraq.”