Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Press freedom still in peril

While presidential spouse Mike Arroyo's favorite suit against journalists and detractors may be the libel suit, press freedom violations remain rampant in the country. Reports from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsiblity:

Reporter escapes kidnap try in Laguna

A tabloid correspondent recently escaped from three men who tried to abduct him while he was waiting for a ride home in Calamba City, 60 kilometers south of Manila.

According to police reports, Dick Garay, a provincial correspondent of tabloid Police Files Tonite, was waiting for a ride along a highway in a local village late in the evening of 15 August when the three men grabbed him.

Garay resisted and managed to run away as the unidentified men tried to shove him inside a van.

“I strongly feel that they were hired goons of people I have criticized in my reports,” Garay said, as quoted by The Philippine Star.

Garay, who reported the incident to police authorities, admitted that he has suspects, adding though that he has been going through his articles to buttress his suspicions on who could be behind it.

Tabloid reporter survives ambush

A tabloid reporter managed to escape death after being shot seven times last 14 August in Valenzuela City, just north of Manila.

Roger Panizal, a reporter of tabloid Bagong Tiktik, underwent a surgery to remove a slug in his right arm. He suffered seven gunshot wounds including those on both palms, and at the back of his left ear.

Police said the shooting took place 5:30 a.m. at the corner of St. Jude and Sta. Juliana Streets in Barangay Malinta.

The attack stemmed from a personal grudge with the suspect, identified as Jeorge de Jesus alias “Boy Demonyo” (Boy Demon).

Panizal’s son, Rommel, himself a reporter for the same paper, said his father is the present secretary of E. Martin Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association, had a punching bout with the suspect last month. The victim confronted the suspect three weeks ago for parking another tricycle ahead of him in their line.

Sources said Boy Demonyo is known notorious robber victimizing mostly students and employees on jeepneys and in crowded streets.

“Panizal had no idea that the suspect was in cahoots with a passenger who, upon alighting, coincided with the appearance of Boy Demonyo armed with a 9 mm-cal. pistol from a dark section of the street,” police investigators said.

Panizal was passing along MacArthur Highway corner Gov. Santiago Street when an unidentified man standing in front of a gasoline station flagged him down and asked him to be ferried to a nearby village.

The suspect was about to approach Panizal but the latter sensed danger when the former was about a few meters away from him.

Despite his injury, Panizal managed to run but the persistent suspect shot him again grazing the back of his left ear.

Radio anchor gets death threats

A broadcaster of a government-run radio station in Kalinga recently reported receiving threatening messages via her cellular phone.

Hazel Gup-ay, a broadcaster of Radyo ng Bayan dzRK in Tabuk, the capital town of Kalinga, said the text messages accused her of being biased in reporting the 31 July 2006 ambush of Bayan Muna provincial chairman Dr. Constancio Claver and his family.

The threatening messages, sent through two mobile phone numbers, criticized Gup-ay for supposedly favoring the Clavers, whom the text message sender tagged as having links with the New People’s Army (NPA).

Gup-ay recalled that she got a slew of text messages when she aired a message dismissing as an “unconvincing alibi” the statement of Kalinga deputy police director Hover Coyoy that police checkpoints failed to block the ambushers’ getaway vehicle because he did not have the phone numbers of those manning the roadblocks. (with reports from The Philippine Star).

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