Masbate journalist shot dead by soldiers

Soldiers reportedly shot a journalist in Barangay Matanglad in Milagros last Saturday, police said.

The spot report said that the victim Ronnie Villamor, 50, was killed in an encounter with soldiers at around 1:30 pm.

Second Lieutenant Maydim Jomadil, who led the Scout Platoon, received a report that at least five men with assorted firearms were seen at Barangay Matanglad.

The troop was conducting combat operations when they clashed with armed men who then “scampered to different directions,” police said.

One of the reported armed men was journalist Villamor, who then rode a motorcycle to escape.

The police said the troops asked Villamor to stop. However, the journalist pulled his firearm from his waist and pointed towards the soldiers. The troops then shot the suspect resulting in his death.

The victim was brought straight to the St. Lawrence Funeral Homes for a post-mortem examination.

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Masbate journalist by soldiers

Authorities recovered a caliber 45 pistol, a magazine loaded with six ammunition, an extra extended magazine loaded with seven ammunition, a holster, a sling brown bag, an identification card, a black watch, and a mobile phone from Villamor.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines told a different story. They said Villamor was trying to cover a land dispute in the barangay, but the soldiers blocked him.

“A local journalist told that in land disputes often request media coverage for activities such as surveys, apparently believing journalists’ presence will prevent violence,” NUJP said in a statement.

The union said Villamor’s colleagues said the victim and his companions even “coordinated with the local police and informed them of their purpose in going to Matanglad.”

NUJP added that the survey did not push through as “they were prevented by a group of soldiers from doing so.” Instead, Villamor and his companions decided to contact the local police for assistance.

“It was at that moment that several gunfires (sic) were heard,” and Villamor was killed, they said.

Villamor was the fourth journalist killed in Masbate after Joaquin Briones in March 2017, Antonio Castillo in June 2009, and Nelson Nedura in December 2003.