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Former radio host killed, motive uncertain

(RSF/IFEX) - On 19 August 2008, Reporters Without Borders called for more police to investigate the killings of five journalists in the Philippines since the beginning of 2008, including the latest victim, former radio presenter Rolando Anjo Julia, in the central province of Camarines Sur.

"Until the motives for these crimes have been discovered and their authors punished, people will continue to doubt the ability of the authorities to end this violence against journalists," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "The Task Force set up in 2001 to investigate killings of journalists and political activists must be strengthened."

Julia, who worked for local FM radio station DZGE and was the brother of Magarao mayor Nelson Julia, was shot dead by motorcycle gunmen on his way home on 15 August. He died in hospital the same day.

The chief suspect is a man Julia had quarrelled with two days earlier, according to the police officer in charge of the enquiry, Victor Asuela. The man, a friend of a political rival of Julia's family, went to police two days after the murder but was let go.

The killing came 11 days after the 4 August shooting of Radio Mindanao Network journalist Dennis Cuesta, who died on 9 August from his wounds. A policeman, Redempto Acharon, from the town of General Santos, was indicted on 18 August for the murder.

The Task Force coordinator in charge of investigating the murders, Ricardo Blancaflor, has announced that two suspects, Kristian E. Bronzage and Joenel V. Lastimoso, were arrested on the week of 11 August for the killing of Martin Rojas, another Radio Mindanao Network journalist, shot dead on 7 August in Capiz.

Rey Bayoging, assistant vice-president of Radio Mindanao Network, said Cuesta and Rojas were both killed because of their work.

"The arrests show the government's determination to end these killings," said Blancaflor. "No effort will be spared to give justice to their families."

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has declared 20 August a national day of mourning for the media.

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