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Media watchdog probes shooting

Warns that without justice, 'press freedom climate will further deteriorate'

Julian Labores, Manila

March 13, 2012

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An international media group is investigating the shooting of a reporter of broadsheet Daily Tribune covering the Palace beat. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) yesterday said it was investigating the Sunday night attack on Fernan Jose Angeles, who is still in critical condition, and pressed the government to bring to justice the people responsible. “Philippine authorities must conduct a timely and thorough investigation to apprehend the criminals responsible for this attack and to determine their motive,” Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, said yesterday. “CPJ is investigating the motive in the attack,” he added. “Until the justice system can effectively enforce the rule of law, those who attack journalists will continue to act with impunity, and the county's press freedom climate will further deteriorate.” The Tribune, for its part, also called on the government to act decisively in solving the crime and to put up measures to protect journalists from the risks they encounter in their jobs. "We expect the government and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to act with expediency in capturing those responsible for this reprehensible crime," it said. Malacanang Palace, meanwhile, said it was “deeply shocked and concerned” over the shooting of Angeles. “[Interior] Secretary [Jesse] Robredo has directed a thorough investigation. We have also been in close contact with Mr. Angeles' wife so as to render assistance to them in their hour of need,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda. A police report said unidentified men beat up Angeles and shot him several times near his home in Pasig City. Angeles suffered at least six gunshot wounds and a broken right arm. But the CPJ noted it was not immediately clear if the attack was related to his work. The Tribune quoted Angeles’ wife, Gemma, as saying the Pasig police were nowhere to be found after the shooting and she had to rely on village watchmen for help. The Tribune has been critical of the government. Gemma said her husband's attackers may have suspected him of "leaking information related to the illegal drug trade," but did not elaborate. CPJ also noted Angeles is the second journalist to be wounded in a shooting incident this month. On March 5, two unidentified men on a motorcycle shot Radio Mindanao Network's Fernando Gabio in front of his home in Iloilo City.

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