Reporters Without Borders said today it was appalled at the killing of radio journalist Juan Porras Pala, shot dead on 6 September by two gunmen as he left a friend’s home in Davao, on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao. He was the sixth journalist to be murdered in the country so far this year.
He had already escaped two assassination attempts, whose instigators have not been arrested or punished, and is the third Filipino journalist to be killed in less than three weeks.
"The impunity enjoyed by those who murder journalists in the Philippines only encourages attacks on media workers," the press freedom organisation said in a letter to interior minister José D. Lina, urging him to make every effort to punish the hitmen and their bosses and take steps to protect journalists who are threatened.
Porras Pala presented a daily programme on local radio station dxGO that harshly criticised some local politicians and communist rebels. He was a former Davao town councillor and ran as an independent for deputy mayor in May 2001.
Gunmen had tried to kill him as he rode to work in a taxi on 29 April this year with three bodyguards, who fired back, forcing the attackers to flee. He was wounded and said he suspected the police of being behind the shooting.
At least four masked men with M-16 rifles and Uzi submachineguns had fired at his car on 14 June 2001. He was hit by three bullets, one in the neck, but managed to broadcast his programme the next day from his hospital bed. Since then, he had been constantly accompanied by bodyguards. An investigation by the mayor of Davao did not name those responsible for the attack.
Porras Pala is the 42nd journalist to be killed in the Philippines since 1986, apparently because of his work. The other five murdered this year were Rico Ramirez, of radio station dzSF (20 August), Noel Villarante, of radio station dzJV (19 August), Bonifacio Gregorio, of the local weekly Dyaryo Banat (8 July), Apolinario "Polly" Podeba, of radio station dwTI-AM (17 May) and John Villanueva, of radio station dzGB-AM (28 April).