x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Radio talk-show host Maria Len Flores Somera shot dead in Manila

Host of show that broadcast public complaints about the Philippine government's performance shot by lone gunman in street.

MANILA // A Philippine radio talk-show host who broadcast public complaints about the government's performance was shot dead in the capital yesterday.

Police said they were investigating whether the attack was linked to her show.

Maria Len Flores Somera, 44, was shot in the back of the head while walking to a bus stop. She died on the way to hospital, a police spokesman, Agrimero Cruz, told reporters.

The Philippines is ranked as one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists, with murders common. Somera was the third journalist killed so far this year.

"We're still trying to establish the motive for the attack," Mr Cruz said, adding that Somera was also the head of a neighbourhood association that was involved in a land dispute. "The killing could also be work-related." T

he lone gunman escaped on foot, threatening to shoot people if they tried to stop him, Mr Cruz said, quoting witnesses.

Callers to Somera's show would complain about public services, and she would then help put them in touch with officials. She herself often criticised officials for negligence or incompetence.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, in a statement, said Somera's killing was the fourth murder of a journalist since President Benigno Aquino took office in mid-2010, if her death is proven to be related to her work.

Data from the International Press Institute shows 98 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 2000 because of their jobs.

That tally includes at least 33 killed in a massacre of 57 people in the southern Philippines in November 2009, which the Committee to Protect Journalists says is the single deadliest event for journalists.