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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                       24  August 2011

Philippine broadcaster shot dead

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Gunmen shot dead the host of a political radio show, police said on Tuesday, the latest journalist to be killed in the world’s most dangerous country for reporters.

Broadcaster Niel Jimena, 42, was riding his motorcycle on Monday when two men on another motorcycle shot him five times, said local police chief Leonardo Cobing.

“He noticed he was being followed, he tried to make a U-turn (to escape) but the two men continued to follow him until . . . one of them opened fire,” said Cobing.

The killing may be linked to Jimena’s twice-weekly show “Judge” on DYRI-RMN in Iloilo city on Negros where he regularly criticized the city mayor and other local officials, according to Cobing.

However, Cobing said police could not rule out other motives.

The head of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Nestor Burgos, said his staff was checking to see if Jimena’s killing was related to his work as a journalist.

In what is a common practice in the Philippines, a local business tycoon had bought regular airtime on the radio station for Jimena’s show, in which the broadcaster attacked his patron’s rivals on air, according to Burgos.

The union had previously listed four journalists killed this year and 145 murdered since democracy was restored in 1986, Burgos said.

Media and rights groups say the Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists due to a “culture of impunity” where firearms are common and powerful figures believe they are above the law.

In the most infamous incident, 30 journalists were among 57 people murdered in the southern Philippines in 2009, allegedly by members of a powerful clan who wanted to eliminate a rival’s political challenge.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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