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Another journalist gunned down

Police in the Philippines must step up investigations into journalist killings following the murder of a radio commentator last week, the fourth Filipino journalist to be killed in June, say the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

A masked gunman shot and killed Jonathan Petalvero on 27 June in a restaurant in Bayugan, a small town on the southern island of Mindanao, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate. Petalvero, who hosted a radio programme on DXFM station, was declared dead on arrival at the local hospital.

"While a direct connection between Petalvero's murder and his work as a journalist has not yet been verified, there is no doubt that this type of attack is consistent with the horrific pattern of antagonism against radio broadcasters in the Philippines," IFJ said.

The Philippine national police have established a task force (Task Force USIG) to investigate media killings in the Philippines, which occur frequently and with near total impunity, says CPJ.

"Until the crimes are successfully investigated, June's surge of violence against the press will undermine the confidence of Philippine journalists," said CPJ. "It is essential that Task Force USIG respond at once to identify the attackers and protect witnesses who could assist in successful prosecutions."

Petalvero's commentary aired as "block-time" broadcasting, a common practice in the Philippines in which commentators buy airtime from local stations and solicit their own advertising. A number of block-time broadcasters have been killed in recent years.

In this case, Petalvero's commentary aired on a station owned by a local politician, according to NUJP. Petalvero was known for his hard-hitting commentaries about corruption within the community. He also planned to run for a position on the local council in 2010.

The Philippines ranks sixth worldwide among countries that fail to prosecute cases of journalists killed for their work, according to CPJ's Impunity Index. CPJ's Global Campaign Against Impunity seeks justice in journalist murders in cooperation with local partners, such as IFEX member the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

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