Female tabloid reporter shot dead in Bataan
Raffy Viray (The Philippine Star) - January 9, 2015 - 12:00am

BALANGA CITY, Philippines – A reporter of Abante tabloid newspaper and local radio commentator was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen near her residence in Barangay Tuyo in this city yesterday.

Nerlita Ledesma, 47, was waiting for a ride to work when two men on a motorcycle pulled up. One of the men drew a pistol and shot her.

Ledesma died at the scene from four gunshot wounds and died on the spot.

Responding lawmen retrieved four spent shells of .45 automatic at the scene where Ledesma was shot some 300 meters from her residence in Sitio San Rafael.

Police criticized several residents in the vicinity for refusing to cooperate with investigators following reports that several people witnessed the killing.

Some witnesses described the gunmen as wearing jackets, bonnets and sunglasses. They were reportedly riding tandem on a black and white motorcycle.

Regional police director Chief Superintendent Ronald Santos has ordered the Bataan police to investigate if the slaying of Ledesma was work related.

Balanga City police chief Superintendent Frederick Obar said they received reports Ledesma had been receiving threats before the attack.

Obar said they have yet to determine whether the killing was work related.

Bataan police provincial director Senior Superintendent Rhodel Sermonia said they are still conducting investigation on the killing through the Special Investigation Task Group.

“The work-related angle is one being pursued. So far based on our investigation there was no threat made recently or in the past. Nothing like criticizing a local politician,” Sermonia said.

Sermonia said they are also investigating the personal background of Ledesma.

Ledesma was provincial correspondent for Manila-based Abante and Abante Tonite tabloids while also working for the Bataan provincial capitol as an employee of the public information office.

Ledesma also worked as radio news anchor with Power Radio in Balanga City.

Ledesma was a member of the National Press Club (NPC) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

 Sermonia noted Ledesma was also president of the Tagnai Homeowners Association in Sitio San Rafael.

He said Ledesma was leading an organization of residents of a parcel of land under legal dispute.

 As homeowners’ president, Ledesma was collecting monthly dues from the residents in the area, Sermonia added without further elaborating.

Police records also revealed Ledesma’s house was strafed by automatic gunfire two years ago. No one was reported killed or injured and the gunmen remain unidentified.

First this year

Malacañang condemned the killing and called for an investigation of the attack.

“We condemn and we are saddened by the killing of Ms. Nerlie Ledesma of Abante. Members of the Philippine National Police are now pursuing the perpetrators and they have been directed to do whatever is necessary,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

The NUJP said Ledesma’s death brings to 172 the total number of journalists slain since 1986 and the 31st under the present administration.

Ledesma became the first journalist killed this year.

In a statement, the management and staff of Abante and Abante Tonite strongly condemned the killing of Ledesma.

“We strongly urge police authorities to quickly solve this brazen attack on a journalist and to bring the perpetrators, whoever they are, to justice,” read the statement sent by Raquel Dawal.

Ledesma was a regular reporter, covering the police and government beats, when both Abante and Abante Tonite started more than 25 years ago. She later covered Bataan and Zambales provinces.

For health reasons, Ledesma chose to become a contributor to the tabloids three years ago.

The NPC, through its president Joel Sy Egco, also condemned the attack.

“We condemn the latest attack on another member of the press, Nerlita Ledesma, of Balanga City. We demand no less than the capture of her attacker and all those who may have planned the hit,” Egco said.

In a statement, the NPC said the Ledesma murder “is the latest addition to the growing number of journalists who were either maimed or killed under the regime of President Aquino.”

“The incident reminds us of last year’s killing of another female journalist, Rubylita Garcia, in Cavite province, where police investigators have allegedly bungled their investigation by inventing suspects in the murder,” Egco said.

“Several months after the killing, justice remains elusive for Rubie and members of her family, who are under government protection,” he added.

“We also lament the fact that the shooting of Ledesma, which we consider an affront to press freedom, came a day short of our scheduled dialogue with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima,” Egco said.  – Delon Porcalla, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ric Sapnu


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