Monday, July 31, 2006

Another Filipino Photojournalist Is Killed

MALABON (Zamboanga Journal / 31 Jul) A photojournalist was killed Monday in a daring broad daylight attack in Malabon City, north of Manila, reports said.

Reports said an unidentified gunman shot Dick Melendres at around 8:40 a.m. near his home. Melendres who worked with the tabloid Tanod was the 4th journalist killed since last month. No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack and police said it is still investigating the killing of the journalist.

It was unknown if the killing had anything to do with the cell phone SMS Melendres received in November from Magiliw Ortega, a village official in Malabon, who was found dead inside his bedroom.

Melendres said he received the message from Ortega Nov. 29 at 5:27 a.m. which read: “Mrming slmat (thank you very much), but the journalist said he had no idea why the official was thanking him.

Police said Ortega, 41, was found in his room with a gunshot wound in the left temple. But investigators said the crime scene was apparently cleaned up and Ortega’s body had been removed and covered with blanket.

The killing came just 10 days after police arrested a 3rd suspect in the killing of a broadcaster in Digos City in the southern Philippines. The man suspect was linked to the shooting of the 51-year Armando Pace. Police in Digos earlier said that two men had been held for questioning -- one was arrested after his neighbors told police that he bragged killing Pace and the other was the alleged owner of a motorcycle used in the attack.

Pace was killed July 18 while heading home in Digos. The motive of the killing was unknown. Police officer Bimbo Labajo, of Digos City police force, earlier said that a man was being investigated after he bragged about killing Pace.

Gunmen also shot and killed George Vigo, a correspondent for the Union of Catholic Asian News, and his wife, Macel Alave-Vigo, also a broadcaster, on June 19 in Kidapawan City in North Cotabato province.

Vigo was also the executive director of the non-government organization Peoples’ Kauyahan Foundation, Inc. which initiates community peace forums and dialogues in North Cotabato and Maguindanao provinces.

Gunmen also ambushed and killed Albert Orsolino, a tabloid photographer for Saksi Ngayon, in Caloocan City in May. Orsolino was driving his car when gunmen, who were onboard a van, blocked his path and opened fire with automatic weapons.

Orsolino was a former president of the Camanava (Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas -Valenzuela) Press Corps. Police is investigating if the latest killing was connected with Orsolino’s murder. Other reports said Melendres and Orsolino were cousins.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said at least 45 journalists have been murdered in the country the past 5 years. The Philippines now ranks second to Iraq on the list of deadliest countries for journalists in 2005, according to international media group Reporters without Borders.

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