BATAAN, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – A tabloid reporter was killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Balanga City early Thursday morning, January 8, reports said.
Abante reporter Nerlita Ledesma, 47, was gunned down in Sitio San Rafael in Barangay Tuyo at 8:05 am, according to Mhike Cigaral of dzXL and CLTV 36, vice chairman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) provincial chapter.
Citing an initial investigation by local authorities, dzMM reported that Ledesma was waiting for transportation to get to work when she was attacked by two motorcycle-riding men.
She died on the spot, after being shot 4 times in the chest, the report said.
The motive for the attack is still being determined by authorities.
Malacañang condemned the killing, and said the Philippine National Police is pursuing the suspects.
“Those responsible for this crime will be held accountable,” Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a news briefing on Thursday.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said that Ledesma is the first journalist to be killed in the Asia Pacific region in 2015, though her death has yet to be determined as work-related.
“Nerlita Ledesma’s death is shocking and disturbing and marks a tragic beginning for the year for the country’s media. The IFJ offers its sympathies to her families and calls on the Philippine authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and bring those responsible to justice,” IFJ Asia Pacific acting director Jane Worthington said in a statement.
Worthington added, “The Philippines needs to take strong and immediate action to curb the shocking culture of violence against journalists and the climate of impunity that continues to weaken the state and democracy.”
It was not Ledesma’s first attack. Two years ago, her house was twice riddled with bullets by unidentified suspects which nearly killed her daughter.
The NUJP said in a statement that if the attack is proven to be work-related, Ledesma’s case would bring to 172 the number of slain journalists in the country since 1986, and 31 under the Aquino administration. – with reports from Randy V. Datu/Rappler.com