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Radio blocktimer shot dead in Digos City, Philippines

A radio blocktimer was shot dead by an unidentified shooter in Digos City, Davao del Sur province, on 23 May 2014.

The incident occurred in the 54th month since the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre, in which 32 journalists and media workers were killed in an election-related incident.

Digos City is some 1,500 kilometers south of Manila. Samuel "Sammy" Oliverio was on his motorcycle with his wife. They were on their way home the morning of 23 May when an unidentified man, also on a motorcycle with an accomplice, shot Oliverio at least three times, according to the police. Oliverio's wife was not hit but was hurt when the motorcycle crashed.

Oliverio co-hosted the blocktime radio program "Isumbong kang Palos ug Tirador" (Report it to Palos and Tirador), which was supported by the city government and aired over various radio stations. Oliverio was known as "Palos" (eel) and his co-host Daniel Gloria Jr. was "Tirador" (shooter).

Blocktimers
buy "blocks" of radio or TV airtime for their programs, which they market to sponsors and advertisers.

According to Digos City information officer Bert Zamora, Oliverio's program had been airing for more than six years. Oliverio had survived a stroke and had gone back to work only two weeks ago, Zamora added.

In a Senate committee hearing on 20 May 2014, a police representative said the police did not include cases of journalists killed when it was found after investigation that the victims were "employees of the local government".

Nevertheless, the police found the killing of Oliverio to be work-related. According to a report  from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Digos City police chief Querubin Manalang confirmed that Oliverio was killed for his work. The police are preparing to file charges against the suspects but refused to name them pending their arrest.

On 23 November 2009, 54 months before Oliverio's killing, 58 people including 32 journalists and media workers were killed in an election-related massacre in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province.

Oliverio is the 142nd  journalist/media worker killed in the line of duty in the Philippines since 1986. He is the fourth killed in Digos City, following the killings of Dominador "Dom" Bentulan on 30 October 1998, Armando "Rachman" Pace on 18 July 2006, and Nestor Bedolido on 19 June 2010.

Oliverio is the 24th  journalist/media worker killed in the line of duty since President Benigno Aquino began his term in 2010; an average of six people have been killed per year in the first four years of his presidency. In comparison, there was an average of five killed per year in the first four years of Aquino's predecessor's term, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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    IFJ Asia Pacific acting director Jane Worthington said: "The Aquino administration's continued failure to protect the journalists of the Philippines has perpetuated an environment where journalists are murdered in their homes, on the street and in public. The horrific depth of impunity in the Philippines means that attackers do not even bother to shield their identities when they are carrying out these horrific assassinations."

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