Cebu blocktimer shot dead outside radio station

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – An unknown gunman aboard a motorcycle shot and killed a radio blocktimer on 22 July 2021 in Cebu city. Cebu city is 1,000km south of Manila.

DyRB blocktimer Reynante “Rey” Cortes was leaving the radio station after his news program at around 9 a.m. when he was shot.  He was rushed to the Cebu City Medical Center but was declared dead on arrival.

Cortes hosted the blocktime news and commentary program Engkwentro and Engkwentro Evening Edition which aired from Monday to Saturday, 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and 8 to 9 p.m. respectively. The blocktimer commented on issues in local politics and corruption among others. 

Blocktiming is a practice in the Philippines in which “blocktimers” buy airtime from broadcast stations for their own programs. 

Rey Cortes on Facebook Live of his program Engkwentro, 22 July 2021. Screengrab from Cortes’ Facebook page.

In a GMA News online report, CCPO deputy chief for operations Lieutenant Colonel Wilbert Parilla said that the city police will create a special investigation task group (SITG) to probe the killing.

CMFR notes that  prior to his killing, Cortes had survived an assassination attempt on 12 June 2003 when Engkwentro was still blocktiming at dyDD Bantay Radyo (Radio Watch). During that time, Cortes suspected that the attempt on his life was due to  his criticism of several customs examiners’ luxurious lifestyle. Cortes was known for his sharp commentaries on local issues. 

If his killing proved to be work-related, Cortes will be the 172nd journalist killed in the line of work since 1986, and the 20th under President Rodrigo Duterte’s watch.