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A popular radio host has been gunned down on the southern island of Mindanao, the first journalist to be killed this year in the Philippines, report the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other IFEX members.

Ernesto Rollin, a presenter on local radio station DXSY in Ozamis City was shot at close range on his way to work on 23 February by two masked men aboard a motorcycle. According to RSF, the killers were aware of Rollin's travel pattern, indicating that he was probably targeted.

Rollin's partner, Ligaya, who was with him that morning, told CMFR she heard the shots before seeing Rollin lying face down on the ground. She rushed to him and was shoved aside by a gunman who fired at Rollin's head.

Although a motive hasn't been established, CPJ says the circumstances "strongly resemble the frequent assassinations of Philippine journalists in retribution for their outspoken reporting." According to RSF, Rollin was a hard-hitting commentator that had spoken out about local corruption on recent programmes.

Provincial and national police have set up a special task force to identify and arrest the suspects and determine the motive.

If killed for his work, Rollin will be the 40th journalist murdered in the line of duty under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. CMFR says 77 journalists and media practitioners have been targeted since 1986, when democracy was restored after 14 years of dictatorship.

Visit these links:
- RSF:
- CPJ:
(25 February 2009)

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