Cartoon by Roni Santiago
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

Filipino broadcaster Cosme Maestrado was shot dead on Aug. 28, 2015. He was the third journalist murdered in two weeks in the Philippines.

Reports from Manila stated that the radio announcer was shot 10 times by four gunmen in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental Province, Mindanao. The attackers fled on two motorcycles.

Maestrado, 46, a news anchor at Radio Mindanao Network’s local dxOC station, was known for his hard-hitting commentaries on local corruption and abuse of power. He had also served as a media consultant to the mayor of Ozamiz City.

Maestrado survived a previous attack in November 2011, his colleagues reported. He   was the third journalist killed in recent weeks.

On August 20, 2015, Teodoro Escanilla, a radio anchor for dzMS radio station in  Sorsogon Province, Bicol Region and a spokesman for the Karapatan human rights group, was shot dead in front of his house.

On August 18, 2015, newspaper publisher Gregorio Ybanez was shot dead in front of his house in Tagum City, Davao Province, Mindanao.

“The murder of the three journalists in two weeks very clearly shows how the lack of progress in ending impunity has emboldened those bent on silencing the press or anyone else that talks about corruption in the Philippines,” said Shawn Crispin, senior southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“We call on President Benigno Aquino to give top priority to swiftly resolving these egregious cases. Until Aquino demonstrates his government is serious about ending the onslaught, the killings will inevitably continue.”

CPJ noted that six journalists were murdered in the Philippines this year, and 30 since Aquino took office in 2010. No one of the killers was convicted.

The Philippines ranks third on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered and the known killers go free. The Philippines is the third most deadly place for journalists in the world, after Iraq and Syria.

We agree with CPJ that “the culture of impunity” has emboldened enemies of press freedom to continue murdering journalists. Because they know they can get away with murder, the killers do not hesitate to shoot media people.

The masterminds behind the murders of journalists are mostly corrupt politicians who are afraid to be exposed by investigative journalists.

These corrupt politicians would spend tons of money to buy votes during elections, and they would recover their “investments” by overpricing projects and collecting salaries of “ghost employees” from their local governments. That’s the reason they cannot tolerate exposes on their corrupt activities.

They have private armies composed of goons, and there were past cases which showed that these low-life men had done the killings.

One way to stop the killings is to eliminate corruption on all government levels. Without corruption, there would be less killings of journalists.