MANILA, Philippines – A provincial newspaper publisher has been murdered in the Philippines, one of the world's most dangerous nations for reporters, a media rights watchdog group said Tuesday, December 20.
Larry Que, publisher of the local paper Catanduanes News Now, was shot by an unknown gunman on the remote central island of Catanduanes late Monday and died in hospital hours later, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said.
The victim had criticized in his column the "negligence" of local officials over an illegal drug factory on the island that was discovered in a police raid three weeks ago, said the union secretary-general Dabet Panelo.
"The (union) challenges the authorities... to immediately solve his killing, the first of a media person under the Duterte administration," she said in a statement, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte.
National police had no immediate comment.
Panelo said Que was the first journalist to be killed since Duterte's inauguration on June 30, though two radio reporters have been wounded in separate attacks over the same period.
Duterte had sparked an international outcry shortly before taking his oath of office, when he said that journalists who took bribes or engaged in other corrupt activities were legitimate targets of assassination.
"Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a bitch," he said.
Duterte has since launched a brutal war on drug crime that has left more than 5,300 people dead.
In October he created a high-level task force to ensure a "safe environment for media workers" and look into unsolved attacks against journalists.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said 77 journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since 1992, making it the world's third deadliest country for reporters. – Rappler.com