A JOURNALIST has been killed by unidentified gunmen near a watch store owned by his family in the Filipino capital of Manila, making his death the 34th since former president Benigno Aquino III came into power in 2010.
Alex Balcoba, 56, was fatally attacked late on Friday evening, according to the National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines in a statement posted on their Facebook page.
Balcoba was described as a crime journalist in an AFP report published by Rappler, and was the director of the Manila Police District Press Corps.
Club president Paul Gutierrez said: “Even as we take cognizance of the Manila Police District’s assurance of an ‘in-depth investigation’ of this latest act of violence at the heart of our nation’s capital thru the formation of a “special task group,” the incident again highlights the fact that criminality remains rampant and unchecked.
“The culture of impunity that is behind these attacks is yet to be addressed by the authorities despite their repeated boasts and promises,” he added.
Malacañang Palace, where the president of the country officially resides and works, issued a statement on Saturday condemning Balcoba’s murder.
According to the Manila Bulletin, the Palace said (translated): “We condemn this crime. [The Philippine National Police] are currently investigating to identify and track down whoever is responsible for this crime.”
However, the NPC are doubtful the police will truly bring any of the perpetrators to justice, as of the dozens of cases where members of the media have been killed, not one has been solved “where the suspects have been arrested and sentenced”.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also issued a statement condemning the murder, and urge incoming president Rodrigo Duterte to ensure an end to the murders they say have “plagued our blood-soaked land”.
They also called for Duterte to uphold basic human rights, especially those pertaining to freedom of speech and expression.
Justice for Sir Alex Balcoba, a crime beat reporter who was being shot in Manila.
— JC Rafols (Topher) (@TopherRafols) May 28, 2016
Balcoba is the second journalist to have been killed in 2016, and the 174th since 1986, when an uprising ended Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship 30 years ago. NUJP has called Aquino’s six-year term the “deadliest” for journalists in the Philippines.