With the murder of a radio journalist in the Philippines Wednesday morning, a total of three journalists have been killed and one wounded in a spate of deadly attacks in the country over the last two weeks and 12 in 2013 overall. The most recent incidents mark an uptick in what Human Rights Watch has dubbed a “War on Journalists” in the country.
An unidentified gunman shot and killed radio journalist Rogelio Batulid in Tagum City Wednesday, according to Davao Today. Thus far in 2013, 12 journalists have been killed in the Philippines, 26 have been killed in the 40 months since the President Benigno Aquino III took office, and no one has been successfully prosecuted in any of these cases, according to Human Rights Watch. The killings come after some 30 journalists were murdered in the so-called Maguindanao Massacre of 2009.
“Journalists in the Philippines are very vulnerable to retaliation by politicians and criminal syndicates, which are often the target of their criticisms and exposes,” Human Rights Watch’s Carlos Conde told TIME.
Human Rights Watch sharply criticized the Aquino government over its response, taking the administration to task for describing the killings as “not so serious.”
“It’s time for the Philippine government to interview in the war on the press rather than ignore it,” Conde wrote in a post to the HRW’s website.