Manila: A radio announcer was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the southern Philippines on Monday, police said.

Mario Vendiola Baylosis, 33, announcer at Our Radio, died after sustaining three gunshot wounds in the chest in front of a Phoenix gas station on the national highway of Salipyasin village, Kabasalan town, Zamboanga Sibugay, at 11.30am on Monday, said chief inspector Ariel Huesca, spokesman of the Philippine National Police in Zamboanga peninsula.

Vendiola was on his way home for lunch on his motorcycle when he was shot. His assailants, also on a motorcycle, followed him on the national highway before shooting him, said Huesca.

The killers fled to an unknown destination, the police quoted eyewitnesses as saying.

Authorities found three spent shells from a 45-calibre pistol and one slug from the scene of the crime, Huesca said, adding that investigation is looking at the motive of the killers.

The killing comes ahead of elections in May.

Journalist killings aplenty

Ben Antiporda, member of the National Press Club, said: “Killings of journalists do not surprise us anymore.” “The government should be alarmed. Killers are looking at journalists like animals, the way they are being killed,” said Antiporda, adding, “We have talked to authorities earlier for more action to stop the killing of journalists. But so far, we have not seen any results of these talks.”

Four broadcast journalists, three in the southern Philippines and one in northern Luzon, were killed in 2012.

More than 30 journalists were killed while covering a convoy of a political family that was en route to file the certificate of candidacy of its relative in Maguindanao in the south in November 2009.

The Philippines has been called the world’s second-most dangerous place for journalists. Seventy-three journalists have been killed here since 1992.

Those targeted were mostly hard-hitting journalists critical of local government leaders who were involved in illegal logging, illegal gambling, illegal mining and drug pushing.

The number of slain journalists could be higher since data does not include incidents during the Martial Law rule of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos which started in 1972.