Renante “Rey” Cortes was leaving the radio station in this central city at around 9:10 a.m., just after finishing his programme, when he was shot at least once in the stomach by a gunman on a motorcycle and was pronounced dead after being rushed to a nearby hospital.
He hosted a news and discussion programme every morning on DyRB radio in which he did not hesitate to criticise members of the local elite, often resulting in irate arguments with local politicians. The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), a government agency, said in a statement that Cortes had been the target of a murder attempt in the past.
“We urge the Philippine authorities to order an independent investigation that sheds all possible light on the killing of Renante Cortes,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “The context of this journalist’s murder (as he left the radio station), the method used by his killers and the previous attempt on his life – this very disturbing combination clearly indicates that he was targeted in a reprisal for his work. In these circumstances, any negligence in the police investigation would be seen as a denial of justice for all journalists.”
RSF received no reply to the email it sent to the PTFoMS spokesperson asking about the protective measures that should have been taken after the first attempt on Cortes’s life.
A DyRB representative meanwhile told the news website Rappler that two people went to the radio station yesterday afternoon, the day before Cortes’s murder, to ask about his work schedule.
The Philippines is ranked 138th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.