The Philippines justice department has issued a subpoena to Jaime Ylarde, the mayor of Dingalan (in the northeastern province of Aurora) to appear before investigators on 27 May to respond to accusations that he instigated the 10 May murder of journalist Philip Agustin.
A former police officer, Ylarde was often the target of criticism in articles Agustin wrote for the weekly Starline Times Recorder. Ylarde has denied any involvement in the murder and says he intended to bring a libel action against Agustin.
The two alleged hit men, Nilo "Boyet" Morete and Manuel Alday, have also been cited to appear before investigators. They are currently on the run.
Fourth journalist murdered since the start of the year
Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today at the murder of Philip Agustin, the editor and publisher of the weekly Starline Times Recorder, who was gunned down last night in Dingalan (in Aurora province, northeast of Manila), becoming the second journalist to be murdered in the Philippines in less than a week and the fourth so far this year.
"The Philippine authorities must immediately deploy all the necessary resources to stem the horrible wave of murders that has engulfed the press since the return to democracy in 1986," the press freedom organization said.
"Two journalists have been killed in the space of a week in what is the world's most dangerous country for the press after Iraq - these murders must stop going unpunished so that journalists can finally work in a normal conditions worthy of a democracy," the organization added.
Aged 54, Agustin was inside the home of his daughter, Roseville Cruz, when a gunman fired through a window and then fled on a motorcycle. Agustin was killed by a single shot behind the left ear. His daughter did not get a chance to see the killers.
Agustin had arrived a few hours earlier in Dingalan with 500 copies of the latest issue of his newspaper, in which he often carried articles about corruption. He had recently published articles about Dingalan mayor Jaime Ylarde, a former police officer. Ylarde denied any involvement in Agustin's murder in an interview today for the TV station GMA-7 and promised to step up the investigation.