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EDITORIAL - Killing spree

In less than two weeks, two journalists have been shot dead in the country and another critically wounded. Last Sunday, Dahunan Alicaway, a barangay councilor and volunteer announcer in an entertainment program of dxPB 106.9 FM, was on his way home when he was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle in Molave town, Zamboanga del Sur.

The next morning, Sapol tabloid columnist and dxMY volunteer reporter Leodoro Diaz was driving to Tacurong City from his home in President Quirino town, Sultan Kudarat when a motorcycle blocked the vehicle’s path and the riders opened fire. Diaz died at the scene.

In Surigao del Sur, broadcaster Julito Orillaneda was critically wounded in an ambush on July 28. Orillaneda owns station dxJB 106.4 FM and has been critical of Marihatag Mayor Raul Cubil. The mayor denied involvement in the ambush and ordered the police to get the perpetrators.

It would be a welcome development if those responsible were caught. In many attacks on media workers, hired guns are believed involved. Those who paid for the hit are usually suspected to be politicians or other government officials who resent critical commentary. The suspicions are rarely validated because few perpetrators are caught.

This failure to bring murderers to justice has consistently ranked the Philippines among the five worst countries in terms of impunity in killing journalists. After each violent attack, official condemnations are issued and task forces formed to pursue the perpetrators. But crime solution is rare, especially if the suspected mastermind is the local political kingpin. Such kingpins control every aspect of the criminal justice system in their turfs, from the police to the prosecution and the courts. Journalists who incur the kingpins’ wrath rarely survive.

Assassinations are facilitated by the lax enforcement of gun laws and the weak regulation of motorcycle riders. The motorcycle has become an ideal getaway vehicle for crime, with riders able to conceal their identities as they pack deadly weapons. Motorcycle license plates are too small to be discernible in the dark or when the bike is in motion, and can easily be daubed with mud to prevent being traced through CCTV footage.

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Committing murder has become much easier these days. But the biggest cause of impunity remains the same: the failure to catch the killers.

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