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New York-based CPJ probes into Filipino broadcaster’s killing

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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based media organization, is discreetly conducting its own investigation whether the murder of hard-hitting Filipino broadcaster Gerardo Ortega was related to his journalism profession.

Speaking on behalf of the CPJ, Madeline Earp sent an e-mail to this writer a few hours after Ortega was killed by a lone gunman in Puerto Princesa City on Monday, of CPJ’s concern on the brutal slaying of the hard-hitting radio commentator.

“CPJ is investigating whether his (Ortega’s) murder was related to his journalism (career),” Ms. Earp said.

The CPJ said that “police in southern Palawan province must thoroughly investigate the motives behind today’s (January 24. 2011) murder of Philippine radio broadcaster Gerardo Ortega.”

Ortega was shot in the back of his head inside a used clothing store popularly called as “ukay-ukay” shortly after his radio program at DWAR at around 9:30 Monday morning.

The suspect, who was captured while fleeing from the crime scene, was identified as Marlon Dicamata, 31, a native of Pagbilao, Quezon.

Police said they are suspecting that Dicamata had an accomplice but was able to escape following the killing of Ortega.

The police have launched a manhunt for the second suspect.

Ortega, an environmentalist advocate, had been known for his anti-mining stance and had been outspoken against corrupt politician.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was reported to have “good leads” in the murder of Ortega.

Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn, a close friend of Ortega, has vowed to pursue the case in earnest.

Hagedorn and Ortega were supposed to meet in Manila Tuesday.

During the initial investigation, Dicamata told investigators that the motive of the killing was allegedly to “rob” Ortega which the police expressed doubt.

Ortega was the 142nd journalist killed in the country since the February 22-25, 1986 EDSA people power revolution.

But the largest mass killing of journalists in the world was the infamous Maguindanao massacre of 32 media practitioners in Maguindanao province on Aug. 23, 2009.

In that incident that shocked journalists around the world, 25 other civilians were also killed.

The CPJ is keenly following the ongoing trial of the Maguindanao massacre.

Ms. Earp said that “the Philippines placed third on CPJ’s 2010 Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. It calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population. CPJ is waging a Global Campaign Against Impunity that focuses closely on Russia and the Philippines.”

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

By Ben Cal-PNA




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