By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
Manila, PHILIPPINES – Local radio journalist Ernie Rollins was killed at gunpoint Monday in Ozamiz City, in Misamis Occidental province of southern Mindanao.
International media groups urge that the murder be promptly investigated. “We firmly condemn the murder of Rollins, the latest victim of a culture of violence and impunity that has ravaged the media in the Philippines for too long,” said Reporters Without Borders. “The motive has not yet been established by the modus operandi indicates it was a contract killing ordered by Rollin’s enemies and carried out by professional hitmen.”
At 5:30 a.m., Rollins was on the way into work to host his program. He parked his car at a gas station in Barangay Talic when two men wearing ski masks approached by motorcycle. Rollins was shot three times in the body and a fatal shot to the head.
Ligaya, his partner, who witnessed the murder states, “I had not expected that Ernie would be targeted.” She then added that she believed that his outspoken commentaries against local officials might have prompted the attack.
Police superintendent Leonilo Cabug was placed in charge of the investigation.
Cabug and Misamis Occidental Governor Loreto Leo Ocampos stated that the murder was a “big blow and grave offense to press freedom.” They continued, “The dynamics of a democratic society hinge on the free flow of information, exchange of ideas, respect for one’s opinion and tolerance for the thoughts of others.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) believes that the date of the killing is of great significance. “There can be no greater irony than the timing of Rollin’s murder. He was killed on the 23rd anniversary of the Edsa People Power I uprising that supposedly restored the people’s basic freedoms, including (that) of expression,” said the NUJP.
Rollin was the first journalist killed this year in the Philippines. However, he was the 99th murder since the 1986, when the Philippines returned to democracy.
For more information, please see:
GMANews – Press Groups Condemn Killing of Filipino Radioman – 24 February 2009
Inquirer – Special PNP Unit to Probe into Rollin’s Slay – 25 February 2009
Reporters Without Borders – Popular Radio Journalist Gunned Down on Mindanao Island – 23 February 2009