The IPI global network strongly condemns the killing of Filipino radio broadcaster Renato Blanco, who was fatally stabbed on September 18. We call on authorities to conduct a thorough investigation in order to determine the motive for this killing and to bring all those responsible to justice. We also call on the new Marcos administration to demonstrate its stated commitment to respect press freedom by taking immediate action to improve the safety of the country’s journalists.

Blanco was stabbed in Mabinay town on the island of Negros, south of the country’s capital Manila, on Sunday night, according to the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), a state agency tasked with solving media murders. After the incident, the journalist was rushed to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival. 

A suspect has been arrested. Local police think that the motive could be political, as Blanco reportedly planned to run against the village chief in the upcoming elections, the Manila Times reported.

“IPI is deeply saddened by the killing of Renato Blanco, and we extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “Authorities must thoroughly investigate the killing to determine whether Blanco was targeted for his work and bring those responsible to justice. Given the continuing violence and threats against journalists in the Philippines, we call on the new Marcos administration to demonstrate its commitment to press freedom by taking clear action to ensure the country’s journalists can do their work freely and safely.”

Independent journalists in the Philippines operate in a climate of intense hostility and violence following years of attacks on the press by the country’s former president Rodrigo Duterte. Journalists, experts, and rights groups have urged the new president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to restore press freedom and help secure the safety of journalists in the country. In August, a government spokesperson gave assurances that the Marcos administration respects freedom of the press as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Blanco is the second journalist to be slain in the Philippines since Marcos Jr. took office in July. Radio commentator Federico “Ding” Gempesaw was shot dead in broad daylight in the city of Cagayan de Oro just days after he was sworn in.