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Journalist shot dead in Masbate


MANILA, Philippines - Two men on a motorcycle gunned down a journalist in Milagros, Masbate early yesterday morning.

Joaquin Briones, 53, columnist of Manila-based tabloid Remate and former commentator of “Dos por Dos” over local radio station dyMe, died at the scene from gunshots to the body.

Briones was shot four times in the back at Bombon Bridge along Sitio Feeder Road in Barangay Bacolod around 8:45 a.m., Senior Supt. Froilan Elopre, Masbate Police director, said.

Briones was on his Honda motorcycle (XR 150) when assailants on a red motorcycle without license plate fired at him, Milagros police commander Chief Insp. Leus Anselmo Prima said.

Witnesses said the gunmen fled toward Mandaon town after the attack.

Responding policemen recovered empty shells of .45-caliber pistol at the scene.

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Prima said they were looking into politics or personal grudge as motive for the killing.

Briones ran for vice governor of Masbate but lost in the 1998 elections. He ran for councilor in Milagros town in 2010 and 2013 and also lost.

The victim is the brother of Rey Briones, publisher and editor-in-chief of Pilipino Mirror. He was former president of the Masbate Tri-Media Association and former publisher of the Masbate Tribune.

Briones was convicted in 2000 and was sentenced to 12 years in jail for libel. He was granted parole after serving almost half his sentence in 2005, records at the National Union of Journalists showed.

He was the fourth Masbate journalist murdered since 2003 after Nelson Nedura was killed on Dec. 2 that year.

On June 12, 2009, Antonio Castillo was murdered while Miguelito Rueras was killed on June 2, 2013.

Only the case of Catanduanes publisher Larry Que has been verified as work related and has been included in the tally of media killings.

Que’s case is the first recorded media killing under the Duterte administration.

Records at the Presidential Task Force on Media Security showed there were seven cases in the first nine months of the previous administration – Jose Daguio in Kalinga on July 3, 2010; Miguel Belen of dwEB FM in Camarines Sur on July 9, 2010; Edilberto Cruz of Salida talboid in Nueva Ecija on Aug. 1, 2010; Edison Falmeniana Sr. of Mindanao Inquirer in Zamboanga del Sur on Dec. 10, 2010; Dr. Gerry Ortega of Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Jan. 24, 2011; Cirilo Gallardo of dwWW FM in Abra on Feb. 1, 2011; and Len Flores Somera of dzME in Manila on March 24, 2011.

The task force is closely coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the investigation of the killing.

Task force executive director and Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco said he had directed the PNP to prioritize the case. – With Celso Amo, Francis Elevado, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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