Talk show host murdered in the Philippines


Squatter shanties perch precariously along waterways in Manila on March 17, 2011


Jay Directo

A radio talk show host has been shot dead in the Philippines in an attack police say could be related to her show’s airing of grievances against the government.

Maria Len Flores Somera, 44, was shot in the back of the head in an apparent ambush as she made her way to work at the dzME radio station in Manila, reports said. She died on the way to hospital.

“We’re still trying to establish the motive for the attack,” police spokesman Agrimero Cruz told reporters, according to Reuters. He said the attack could be linked to a land dispute but added: “The killing could also be work-related.”

Although radio broadcasters are regularly killed in the Philippines, few victims are targeted in the country’s capital and even fewer are women, GMA News said.

Somera, who leaves behind a husband and three children, presents a show in which callers complain about public services. Reuters says she often criticized officials for negligence or incompetence herself.

Somera was the second journalist murdered this year in the Philippines, according to ABS-CBN news. A statement from the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines said she was the fourth since President Benigno Aquino came to power in 2010.

Media and rights groups claim the Philippines is one of the world’s most perilous places for journalists.

More than 140 journalists have been murdered in the Philippines since 1986 when democracy was restored. In 2009, 32 journalists were killed in a massacre of 57 people in the southern Philippines that is believed to have been politically motivated.

-- Barry Neild