Jesus “Jess” Malabanan, 58, who worked with the Manila Standard, among other news media, was shot dead late on Wednesday by unknown gunmen while watching television at home in Calbayog in the province of Samar, police said.
They said the motive for the attack was not immediately clear and two gunmen fled the scene.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson, Karlo Nograles, said Malabanan’s death was a “tragic murder” and urged witnesses to come forward. The Presidential Task Force on Media Security was looking into the incident, Nograles said, and was “exploring all angles, including the possibility that the killing was related to his work as a journalist.”
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jesus Malabanan,” a Reuters spokesperson said, describing him as a “talented and tenacious journalist”.
The Manila Standard had no immediate comment on Malabanan’s murder.
The Philippines is one of the world’s deadliest places for journalists, with at least 187 killed in the past 35 years, according to the presidential task force, which called Malabanan’s killing “cowardly”.
The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines said his murder “underscores the threats and dangers Filipino journalists continue to face.”
Human rights groups say violence and intimidation of the media has worsened under Duterte, who came to power in 2016. According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), 21 media workers have been killed in the country since Duterte took office.
The president’s office has said it does not condone threats against the media.
“This cold-blooded murder is an undeniable proof of the glaring impunity that continues to pervade in our country,” Pacquiao said in a statement.
Filipino journalist shot dead in ‘cowardly’ killing, say Philippine authorities