Pampanga-based Journo shot dead in Samar

CMFR/PHILIPPINES— Two unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Pampanga-based journalist on December 8 in Calbayog, Western Samar. Western Samar is 526 km south of Manila.

A correspondent for the Manila Standard, Bandera and Reuters, Jesus “Jess” Malabanan, was shot at close range inside the family store at around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, his wife Mila Malabanan confirmed in initial reports. 

Malabanan, 58, died instantly from a headshot, she said by phone. “We were watching television when a shot rang out. I didn’t see the gunmen because it was dark,” she added.

Malabanan was a defense reporter until the 1990s when he transferred residence in Pampanga. Manuel “Manny” Mogato, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, said in his Facebook post that Malabanan “helped me with stories in Pampanga when I was the Reuters Political Correspondent for 15 years in 2003.” He added that Jess helped Reuters in the drug war stories that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018. 

The Pampanga Press Club and the National Union of Journalists (NUJP)-Pampanga Chapter released separate statements condemning the killing.

The Pampanga Press Club said that “Jess, to many among us, a long-time reporter and stringer for many media outfits for many years, had proven himself to be a man dedicated to his duties as a journalist.” The Press Club also added a call to authorities “to help in the prompt investigation that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators of this cowardly act in the interest of justice.”

While NUJP’s statement read “We, members of NUJP-Pampanga Chapter, join our fellow Kapampangan journalists and other media organizations in condemning the senseless killing of Jesus ‘Jess’ Malabanan… NUJP Pampanga would also like to extend its sincerest condolences to the bereaved family.” 

If his killing proves to be work-related, Malabanan will be the 174th journalist killed in the line of duty since 1986, and the 22nd under President Rodrigo Duterte’s watch.