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Second journalist killed in Philippines in a week

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TERESA CEROJANO | September 5, 2013 08:10 AM EST | AP

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MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine newspaper editor who recently wrote about illegal gambling has been killed, the second journalist slain in the country in a week, police said Thursday.

Vergel Bico was shot twice in the head Wednesday as he was driving his motorcycle in Calapan City in Mindoro Oriental province, said local police chief D'Artagnan Katalbas. The gunman fled on a motorcycle, which was driven by another man.

Katalbas said a motive was not yet known, but that investigators were "not discounting" that the killing was related to Bico's work as a journalist.

"We are looking at suspected guns for hire here," Katalbas said.

Bico, 41, was an editor for the weekly Kalahi newspaper in Calapan, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Manila.

Ronald Bula, publisher of the Bandera Pilipino weekly, where Bico worked as a columnist for two years until leaving last October, said Bico recently wrote about illegal gambling in another Mindoro town.

Last week, radio commentator Fernando Solijon was fatally shot by a motorcycle-riding assailant in southern Iligan City.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Solijon had criticized local politicians on his program and linked a village chief to illegal drugs.

Nearly 160 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, according to the union.