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Radio journalist killed in Davao City

(CMFR/IFEX) - On 6 September 2003, radio commentator Juan "Jun" Pala of DXGO in Davao City was shot and killed. He is the sixth journalist slain this year in the Philippines, doubling the average of three journalists killed annually since 1986.

Pala survived two earlier attempts on his life on 14 June 2001 and 29 April 2003 (see IFEX alerts of 30 April 2003 and 15 June 2001). Davao City is approximately 946 kilometres southeast of Manila.

At around 7 p.m. (local time), Pala was walking home with his bodyguard and cousin Roberto Porras and friend Fred Luas when attacked by unknown gunmen on board a motorcycle. They were some 300 metres from his house in Davao Empress Subdivision.
The three men were returning from the adjacent Vista Verde Subdivision, where Pala had been visiting a friend. Pala, who sustained nine gunshot wounds to various parts of the body, particularly the chest and arms, was pronounced dead on arrival at San Pedro Hospital. His companions were slightly injured and treated at the same hospital.

CMFR has learned that the police have no leads yet regarding the motive and identities of the attackers. However, a report by the Manila newspaper "Today" quoted Inspector Ranulfo Cabañog, general investigator at the Investigation Section of the Davao City Police, as saying that Pala could have been killed for commentaries about his political opponents or over a personal grudge.

Pala had been broadcasting his morning show "Isumbong Mo Kay Pala" ("Tell Pala") from his house since the 29 April attack.

Pala's wife, Louise, said her husband aired critical commentaries against various government officials, including Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He had also exposed graft and corruption in the city involving some politicians. After the second attempt on his life, Pala claimed that Mayor Duterte was the most likely culprit.

Duterte declined to comment on Pala's death, saying only that any questions about the incident should be addressed to the police. "Today" also quoted him as saying that he "would be happy to submit to an investigation."

Pala was known for his anti-communist comments in the 1980s. He also served as a spokesperson for the anti-communist vigilante group Alsa Masa. Since then, Pala had "mellowed," according to listeners to his programme, and occasionally praised leftist personalities and groups.

Since 1986, 42 journalists have been killed in the Philippines. Pala was the sixth media worker killed this year after John Belen Villanueva, Jr. of Legazpi City, Albay (28 April); Apolinario "Polly" Pobeda of Lucena City, Quezon (17 May); Bonifacio Gregorio of Tarlac City (8 July); Noel Villarante of Santa Cruz, Laguna (19 August); and Rico Ramirez of San Francisco in Agusan del Sur (20 August).

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