Manila: A freelance radio anchorman was shot dead before dawn on Friday in Legazpi City. The presidential palace and a journalists’ union slammed the attack as an affront to press freedom.

Joey Llana, 38, was driving his car on his way the office of radio station dwZR in Legazpi City, Albay when at least two men, armed with pistols, fired at his vehicle at close range at around 4:45am.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), quoting local radio reports in Legazpi City, said at Llana was shot 14 times with .45 calibre and 9mm pistols.

“Authorities have yet to determine the motive for Llana’s murder although a sibling of the victim said he had received death threats days before the killing,” Lottie Salarda, media safety officer of the NUJP, said in a Facebook post hours after the killing.

“If proven to be related to his work, his death would be the 12th media killing under President Rodrigo Duterte, the third in Bicol,” she said.

Llana, anchors his own radio programme “Metrobanat,” where he criticises local officials and public and private personalities in a light hearted manner.

Joel Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), said that while it is not yet clear who is responsible for the killing, the slaying of personalities such as Llana are automatically treated as a case of “media killing” until proven otherwise.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the killing of Llana is another infringement on the press freedom.

“We strongly condemn the killing of radio reporter Joey Llana in Daraga Albay as yet another infringement on the rights to life and a free press,” he said in a press statement.

According to the watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Philippines ranks 133 in the World Press Freedom Index in 2018, down six points from its ranking of 127 in 2017.

Senator Grace Poe, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media said the killing of Llana “has no place in a democratic society.”

“We urge the authorities to swiftly act on this and bring the perpetrators to justice,” she added.

Despite drastic moves by the government to curb crime by going after drug syndicates and other criminals, attacks on politicians and clerics and other high profile personalities, persist.