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a0544 BC-AS-Philippines-Journ 06-17 0410

Gunmen kill 2 Philippine journalists

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Gunmen killed two journalists in separate attacks in the central Philippines last week, a media watchdog said Wednesday.

Columnist Antonio Castillo was killed in Masbate province on June 12 and radio commentator Crispin Perez Jr. in Mindoro Occidental province three days earlier, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said. Motorcycle-riding gunmen were involved in both attacks, it said.

Police said investigations were continuing and no motive has been established.

Perez, a columnist for the Bigwas (Blow) tabloid, was heading home to Uson town from Masbate city, the provincial capital, when he was shot, police chief Senior Inspector Aurora Moran said.

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Moran said the gunmen chased after Perez, who drove his motorcycle about 100 yards (100 meters) further, but fled after he was able to find refuge in a house.

She said Perez told investigators he recognized the driver of the motorcycle, but died in the hospital three hours later before he could identify the man.

Castillo, a lawyer who was a provincial vice governor in the early 1990s, was shot by a man who pretended to seek his legal advice outside his house in Mindoro Occidental’s San Jose city, the media watchdog said.

The group quoted his wife as saying the attack may have been work-related.

The media freedom center said 78 journalists have been killed in the line of duty since democracy was restored in the Philippines after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. The number would rise to 80 if Castillo and Perez were killed because of their jobs.

More than half have been killed in the past eight years under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the group said.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has cited the Philippines as one of 14 countries where violence against the press often goes unsolved and unpunished.

Others on the list are Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iraq, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Colombia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Russia, Mexico, Bangladesh and India.

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