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Palace official condemns killing of broadcaster in Bukidnon

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Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma (Photo from http://pcoo.gov.ph/)

MANILA, Philippines — Under fire for downplaying the problem of media killings in the country, Malacañang came out on Sunday, with a strongly worded statement condemning the murder of a broadcast journalist in Bukidnon on Friday.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, who was specifically criticized for describing the killing of journalists as “not so serious,” said police had been instructed to “exert utmost effort in bringing the assailants to the bar of justice.”

“We are determined to end the culture of impunity that has brought about these media killings and we call on the citizens to support our efforts,”  said  Coloma in a statement he read over Radyo ng Bayan.

“We reiterate the government’s commitment to solve the killings of journalists, broadcasters and media practitioners through the combined efforts of all  government agencies concerned,” he said.

According to Coloma, the Palace was “closely monitoring the trial of the accused persons,” noting that the Philippine National Police was “strengthening its investigative arm” while the Department of Justice was “beefing up its battery of prosecutors assigned to build and file cases.”

On Friday, a radio commentator was shot dead in Valencia City in Bukidnon.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Joas Dignos, a block-timer who broadcast critical commentary on his weekday program “Bombardier” over radio station dxGT, was shot and killed by two motorcycle-riding assailants outside the CAP Building along Sayre Highway at around 9:30 p.m.

Dignos, 48, had received threats in the past and had come in conflict with several Valencia personalities.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch earlier said that 24 journalists had been killed under President Aquino’s watch.

But Coloma, a former columnist in a business paper, indicated that the number was bloated.

He said that “a driver of a network, employees of fly-by-night newspapers and a block-timer selling skin whiteners” were among those on the list of journalists killed.

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