Former radio reporter killed in Sorsogon shooting

A former radio reporter in Sorsogon – now with the Balangibog News Online portal – was gunned down on Monday evening, September 14.

Jobert Bercasio, who previously reported for DZMS, was attacked at around 7:55 pm near XTRM Seabreeze Homes Subdivision at Barangay Cabid-an, Sorsogon City, based on an initial police report.

Police Major Maria Luisa Calubaquib, PNP Bicol regional spokesperson, said Bercasio was onboard a scooter from Sorsogon proper when he was shot at by two unidentifed riding-in-tandem suspects.

Bercasio was struck 4 times in different parts of the body and died from his injuries.

The suspects fled soon after the shooting and their whereabouts are unknown.

Calubaquib said the police is investigating the incident.

Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero condemned the killing.

“I condemn in the strongest possible words the killing of Sorsogon mediamen Jobert ‘Polpog’ Bercasio last night I have ordered our local police to conduct a thorough investigation on the incident and to relentlessly pursue the perpetrators,” Escudero said in a statement on Tuesday, September 15.

"Any attack or killing of a journalist or a mediaman is also an attack on the very same freedom that we swore to uphold and protect," added the governor, who also extended his condolences to Bercasio's family.

Mining industry coverage

In a statement, international organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it suspected that Bercasio was killed because of his coverage of the mining industry.

In an interview program Bercasio used to broadcast, he often denounced deforestation and illegal mining in his region.

RSF pointed out that in his last Facebook post before his murder, Bercasio referred to the presence, near a quarry, of suspicious trucks that did not have the necessary permits and were using false licence plates. He posted photos of these trucks 5 days prior.

“Given the modus operandi, which is typical of the murders of journalists in the Philippines, everything indicates that those who gunned down Jobert Bercasio were acting on the orders of someone who was annoyed by his reporting,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

“We urge the Philippine government to shed light on this case by appointing an independent investigation. It is time to end the impunity that characterizes crimes of violence against media personnel in the Philippines," RSF added.

The Philippines is ranked 136th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index, two places lower than in 2019. – Rappler.com