Philippine newspaper editor murdered

MANILA - The editor of a newspaper in the northern Philippines was shot dead on Friday, the latest in a spate of killings of journalists in the country, police said.

A man riding pillion on a motorcycle shot Johnson Pascual, editor-in-chief of Prime News, who was driving a van from Alicia towards the Cauayan, Isabela Province, a police report said.

Pascual, 55, who was also manager of a bank branch in the area, lost control of the vehicle which then plunged into a ravine, it added.

No motive was given for the attack and no arrests have been made.

Pascual is the sixth journalist murdered this year across the island archipelago and the 147th killed since 1986, said Nestor Burgos, head of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Burgos said it was still too early to say if the murder was related to Pascual’s job as a journalist.

“But whatever the motive, the authorities should really investigate the crime,” he said.

Pascual’s assistant at the bank, Gigi Nueve, said he was not known to have any enemies.

“He was a good man, very friendly and very fatherly to us and our clients and we were very shocked when we heard this happened,” she told AFP.

Media and rights groups say the Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists due to a “culture of impunity” where firearms are common and powerful figures believe they are above the law.

In the most infamous incident, 30 journalists were among 57 people murdered in the southern Philippines in 2009, allegedly by members of a powerful clan who wanted to eliminate a rival’s political challenge.