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Radio broadcaster killed in Palawan

(CMFR/IFEX) - A radio broadcaster was shot dead in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan province on 24 January 2011. If the killing is work related, Ortega will be the second journalist killed in the line of duty under the Benigno Aquino III administration. Palawan is a province approximately 592 kilometers south of Manila.

Gerardo "Gerry" Ortega, a broadcaster with Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) dwAR, was at a thrift store when an unidentified man shot him. Ortega, who had just come from his daily program "Ramatak", was shot in the head.

Joselito Alisuag, the Ortega family lawyer, said the broadcaster was a "staunch critic" of illegal mining activities in Palawan. Ortega also reported on alleged corruption in the provincial government on his program.

Online reports said the police immediately apprehended the alleged gunman, Marvin Alcaraz. Alisuag said the suspect was new in town and was not known to the victim.

Alisuag told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility that the killing could only be related to Ortega's journalistic work. "He did not have any personal enemies, nor does he have any vices," Alisuag said in Filipino.

Ortega and one of his children, who is also a broadcaster, had also been receiving threats prior to the incident, Alisuag said.

Ortega, a veterinarian, was involved in ABS-CBN Foundation's Bayanijuan project, an integrated community outreach program. He was also a member of the Provincial Board from 2001 to 2004.

One hundred eighteen journalists and media practitioners have been killed in the line of duty in the Philippines since 1986. Prior to Ortega, there had only been one work-related killing of a journalist in Palawan province. Fernando "Dong" Batul, a radio commentator for the Palawan Broadcasting Corporation (dyPR), was killed on 22 May 2006. The case against the alleged gunman is still being heard at the Puerto Princesa trial court.
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