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Philippines 7 September 2006

Policeman and two other suspects arrested for attempted murder of tabloid reporter

The police announced today that three people have been arrested for the attempted murder of reporter Roger Panizal of the tabloid newspaper Tiktik on 14 August in Valenzuela, near Manila. One of the detainees is a police officer. Another is suspected of being the mastermind.

Panizal was shot in the neck and hand and spent several days close to death before beginning to recover. Nonetheless he was able, from his hospital bed, to identify some known as George Demonyo (“George the Devil”) as his assailant.

At the start of August, President Gloria Arroyo gave the police and justice department a 10-week deadline to solve ten cases of journalists and left-wing activists who have been murdered, but few arrests have so far been made.

Reporters Without Borders calls on the security forces to redouble their efforts in order to put an end to the climate of violence that has made the Philippines the second-most dangerous country in the world for journalists, after Iraq.

14.08.06 - One journalist badly injured, another threatened as two-week-old police offensive yields scant results

Reporters Without Borders condemned the ongoing violence against journalists in the Philippines today as newspaper reporter Roger Panizal was seriously injured in a shooting attack in Valenzuela (near Manila) and Hazel Gup-ay, a local public radio station presenter in the northern city of Tabuk, continued to receive death threats.

“President Gloria Arroyo’s announcement of an offensive by police and judicial authorities raised hopes of a decline in attacks on journalists and human rights activists, but this has not happened,” the press freedom organisation said.

“Two weeks have gone by since the president’s announcement, but only one case of violence against a journalist seems to have been solved and it was not linked to the victim’s work,” Reporters Without Borders continued. “It is high time the police and judicial authorities worked together to solve crimes and stop the violence.”

The police announced on 4 August that they had arrested four suspects, including two corrupt police officers, for the murder of cameraman Ralph Runez of the public TV station RPN, who was shot while being robbed in Manila on 28 July.

“It is essential that the police establish the motives for today’s attempted murder of Panizal,” Reporters Without Borders added. “The mounting violence in Valenzuela area should prompt the police to step up its capacity to combat the criminal gangs there that are threatening journalists. In the case of Gup-ay, the authorities should give her protection and identify the source of the threats against her.”

A reporter for the tabloid newspaper Tiktik, Panizal was on his way to work today in Valenzuela when a gunman stopped his taxi and made him get out. After being joined by two accomplices, the gunman shot Panizal three times. According to the website, he was hit in the throat and hand. Interviewed by colleagues on his hospital, he managed to identify “George Demonyo” (George the Devil) as the person responsible.

Two other journalists, Albert Orsolino and Prudencio Melendres, have been killed this year in the Valenzuela region. The motives for their murders are not thought to have been linked to their work.

Meanwhile Gup-ay, 36, the host of the daily programme “Kabarangay” (Town Mates) on public radio station Radyo ng Bayan dzRK in Tabuk (in the northern province Kalinga), has been receiving SMS death threats on her mobile phone since 1 August.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Gup-ay has been afraid for her life ever since she reported an ambush against left-wing activist Constancio Claver on the air. Sent from the phone number 09104394913, the messages accuse her of bias in her coverage of this incident and, in general, of being too critical of the local authorities. An SMS message sent on 6 August from 09207028180 said: “I hope you are going to die soon.”

In this country
22 May - Philippines
A journalist on army target list, another shot, possibly by soldier
6 March - Philippines
Second journalist in a week narrowly escapes murder attempt
23 February - Philippines
Radio journalist gunned down on Mindanao island
5 January - Philippines
Radio show host comes under fire near his home
3 December - Philippines
Second Radyo Natin presenter gunned down in less than a month

in the annual report
Philippines - Annual report 2008
Philippines - Annual report 2007
Philippines - Annual report 2006

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