ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - Gunmen have shot dead a radio broadcaster in the strife-torn southern Philippines in the latest in a spate of attacks on media workers, authorities said Tuesday.
The presidential palace, which has been criticised for failing to curb the killings, condemned the murder of Richard Najib, who was shot dead in the town of Bongao late Sunday, a day after World Press Freedom Day.
"We are ordering the Philippine National Police to track down, arrest and charge those behind these crimes," said President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Herminio Coloma.
Najib, of DXNN radio station, was returning from a basketball game in Bongao when three men accosted him and shot him dead, said the area's police chief Senior Superintendent Joselito Salido.
"We are still trying to look deeper into the attack but a personal grudge is a possible angle," he said.
Bongao is in the southernmost islands of the Philippines, an area where armed groups, outlaws and Islamic extremists are known to be active.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines criticised the killing, saying it was the 27th murder of a journalist since Aquino took office in 2010.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says that 76 journalists have been murdered in the Philippines in connection with their work since 1992.
It placed the Philippines as third in the committee's "impunity index" indicating the most dangerous places for journalists.
Aquino, elected in 2010 on a reformist platform, has pledged to stop such murders but local media groups say his government is not doing enough.
In one of the worst instances of such crimes, 32 journalists were among 58 people kidnapped and massacred, allegedly by a powerful political clan, in the southern province of Maguindanao in November 2009.
The trial of some of the accused is ongoing but many of the suspects remain at large.