- A police report says journalist Jesus Malabanan was shot in the head while watching television at his home.
- He helped investigate President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
- Data show at least 21 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office in June 2016.
A journalist who participated in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters news agency’s investigation into President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has been shot dead – the latest victim of continued violence against people working in the media in the Philippines.
According to a police report, Jesus “Jess” Malabanan was shot in the head on Wednesday evening while watching television at his home in Calbayog, a town on the central island of Samar.
The police report also indicates that two unidentified assailants carried out the attack. They were not arrested.
Malabanan was rushed to a private hospital in the city but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Prior to Malabanan’s murder, data compiled by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) showed that at least 21 journalists had been killed in the country since Duterte took over the presidency in June 2016.
In October, online journalist and radio commentator Orlando Dinoy was killed in his apartment in Davao’s southern region, Duterte’s stronghold. Her alleged attacker was arrested and later charged with murder, but a government spokesperson said Dinoy’s murder was unrelated to his work.
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In May, a journalist turned politician was killed in the province of Capiz, in the center of the island of Panay.
Until Wednesday’s last deadly attack, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said there had been 87 media professionals killed in the line of duty in the Philippines since 1992, when it started collecting data around the world.
CPJ’s impunity index released in late October ranks the Philippines seventh in the world for unsolved murders of journalists.
Including the recent Malabanan murder, there have been at least 14 unsolved murders of journalists in the country. Most of the killings took place in the provinces, where journalists are less protected than their colleagues in the capital, Manila, when covering controversial stories.
As a freelance journalist, Malabanan has contributed to several Philippine-based publications as well as to the Reuters news agency.
In a social media post, journalist Manny Mogato, who was also part of the Reuters team that won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, wrote that Malabanan “has been a great help to Reuters in stories of war against drugs that won a Pulitzer in 2018 ”
Reports said Malabanan had been threatened in his hometown of Pampanga in the north, so he decided to move to Samar in the central Philippines.
“I joined with other reporters in condemning the murder of Jess… it is totally unacceptable. Justice for Jess, ”Mogato added.
Reuter’s award-winning story series exposed “the campaign of brutal killings behind Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs,” as Pulitzer’s quote. The Reuters team reported on the role of the Davao police in the deadly drug raids in Manila, as well as the use of hospitals to cover up drug-related murders.
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Duterte’s war on drugs, which has claimed thousands of lives among suspected drug suspects, is now under investigation by the International Criminal Court.
In a statement, the Pampanga Press Club called on the authorities “to contribute to the rapid investigation which would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of this cowardly act in the interests of justice”.
The NUJP also issued a statement “condemning the senseless murder” of Malabanan.
Caoilfhionn Gallagher, international human rights lawyer and journalist advocate, called the news of the latest murder “chilling” as she prepared for the events in Oslo linked to the Nobel Peace Prize.
The prize goes to Filipino journalist Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov on Friday.
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Filipino journalist who helped investigate Duterte’s war on drugs shot dead