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MANILA, Philippines – A radio broadcaster from Dumaguete City died on Tuesday, May 1, a day after being shot by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen.
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) confirmed that Edmund Sestoso, host of the program Tug-anan on dyGB Power 91, passed away on Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday morning, April 30, gunmen attacked Sestoso while he was on his way home after work.
The motive for the attack has yet to be determined.
Dumaguete City Mayor Felipe Remollo called on authorities to “go [the] extra mile” to ensure that perpetrators be “identified, tried, and meted with the appropriate penalty.”
Sestoso, also a former Dumaguete City chapter chairperson of the NUJP, is the 9th journalist murdered under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the group. His death came two days before World Press Freedom Day.
“[The attack] underscores how deeply the culture of impunity has rooted itself in our country, emboldening those who wish to silence not only the press but to control civic discourse in general by stamping out critical and dissenting voices,” the NUJP said in a statement.
‘Affront to press freedom’
Dumaguete City’s press club condemned the attack on their colleague and expressed fears others could also be at risk.
“This is an affront to press freedom that everybody, not just members of the 4th estate, should be worried about because of its implications,” Dumaguete Press Club president Juancho Gallarde said in a statement.
“If we are silenced, who would take the cudgels of bringing to fore ills in government?” he added.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), meanwhile, said Sestoso’s death shows the continuing culture of impunity “that has forced journalists, especially in the provinces, to work and live in a climate of fear.”
“The Duterte administration may not like a free press very much but it has the duty and responsibility to arrest and prosecute the killers of Sestoso and the many others who were murdered over the years,” Carlos Conde of HRW Asia Division said.
The Philippines was tagged by Reporters Without Borders as “Asia’s deadliest country for media” after 4 journalists were killed in the country in 2017. In the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, the Philippines slid 6 spots to rank 133rd out of 180 countries. (WATCH: When Philippine media is threatened) – Rappler.com