Radio broadcaster shot dead in south Philippines

January 6, 2012 - 5:01 AM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Gunmen fatally shot a radio broadcaster as he drove his car with his wife and son in what an advocacy group said Friday was the 150th journalist slain in the Philippines since democracy was restored in 1986.

Police said they did not yet know the motive for the attack late Thursday in southern General Santos city on Christopher Guarin, 42, a broadcast journalist on Radio Mindanao Network and a publisher of a small local tabloid.

He read a text message on air this week in which the sender warns Guarin he would be killed, but his co-anchor said Guarin found the text puzzling and did not know of any enemies.

Guarin managed to flee his vehicle when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire, but the assailants chased him down and shot him repeatedly at close range before escaping, regional police chief Benjardi Matele said.

His wife, who was slightly injured in the attack, said in a radio interview that her husband had received death threats.

Guarin's 12-year-old son was not injured but was traumatized, said Supt. Resty Damaso, a regional police spokesman.

Police planned to question Guarin's wife on the nature of the death threats against him, Damaso said.

Fred Solinap, Guarin's co-anchor in their program on herbal medicine, said Guarin was puzzled by a text message he got during their radio broadcast on Tuesday. The message, which Guarin read on air, warned him in the local dialect not go out or he will be killed.

He said Guarin was not aware of any enemies. But he lost a city council race in the 2010 election and was a hard-hitting commentator on another radio station years ago.

Guarin published the Tatak News tabloid, where columnists sometimes criticize mining companies, police, drug traffickers and local officials, though he did not write himself.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Guarin's death was the 150th slaying of a journalist since 1986, and the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned killing.

The IFJ called on President Benigno Aquino III to honour his pre-election commitment to defend press freedom in the Philippines by seeing that all media workers' murders are investigated and punished quickly.

Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda also condemned the killing. He said police have identified leads that will hopefully lead to apprehension of the suspects.