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Philippines 23 February 2009

Radio journalist gunned down on Mindanao island

Reporters Without Borders is outraged by today’s murder of Ernesto Rollin, a presenter on local radio DxSY-AM in Ozamiz City, in Misamis Occidental province (on the southern island of Mindanao). He was the first journalist to be killed this year in the Philippines, but the 99th since the return to democracy in 1986.

Aged about 40, Rollin was gunned down at close range at about 5:30 a.m. in a service station in nearby Oroquieta City by two men in caps and ski masks aboard a motorcycle, who checked to see he was dead before they drove away. Rollin had been on his way to host his 7:30-9:00 a.m. programme.

“We firmly condemn the murder of Rollin, the latest victim of a culture of violence and impunity that has ravaged the media in the Philippines for too long,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The motive has not yet been established but the modus operandi indicates it was a contract killing ordered by Rollin’s enemies and carried out by professional hit-men.”

The killers clearly knew that Rollin was in the habit of parking his car in the service station before catching a bus. His companion, Ligaya, said she heard the shots before seeing Rollin lying face-down on the ground. She rushed to him and tried to lift him up, but one of the triggermen fired a last in the back of his neck. This was almost certainly the fatal shot, Ligaya said, adding: “I had not expected that Ernie would be targeted.”

According to his colleagues, including the Ozamiz City representative of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Rollin was well-known for being outspoken. In recent programmes he had covered a controversial decree concerning health workers and the use of cars by officials in Misamis Occidental province.

Under-secretary for justice Ricardo Blancaflor announced that police superintendent Leonilo Cabug had been put in charge of a special unit tasked with identifying and arresting the suspects. “As of this moment, elements of the task force headed by Leonilo Cabug are investigating the incident to determine the possible motive behind the killing,” Blancaflor said.

Rollin had been a journalist for the past 10 years or so. His outspoken comments on his prime-time current affairs programme on DxSY-AM had made him very popular in the province.




In this country
22 May - Philippines
A journalist on army target list, another shot, possibly by soldier
6 March - Philippines
Second journalist in a week narrowly escapes murder attempt
5 January - Philippines
Radio show host comes under fire near his home
3 December - Philippines
Second Radyo Natin presenter gunned down in less than a month
17 November - Philippines
Outspoken radio presenter gunned down in Misamis Oriental province

in the annual report
Philippines - Annual report 2008
Philippines - Annual report 2007
Philippines - Annual report 2006

reports
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Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
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