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Newspaper journalist shot and wounded following threats; two libel cases involving radio journalists lead to lawsuit and arrest

(CMFR/IFEX) - Delfin Mallari Jr., a Southern Luzon correspondent for the Manila-based broadsheet "Philippine Daily Inquirer" (PDI), was shot and wounded at around 7:40 a.m. (local time) on 19 April 2007 by two unidentified gunmen in Lucena City, Quezon, a province east of Manila. PDI is one of the leading daily newspapers in the Philippines.

Mallari, 53, was driving his car with Johnny Glorioso of the ABS-CBN network on their way to DWKI, a local radio station, for their 8:00 a.m. programme when two assailants on a motorcycle fired at them.

Glorioso, who was not hurt in the shooting, rushed Mallari, who was hit on the left side, to the hospital. The bullet from Mallari's body was removed at around 10:00 a.m. Gina Rodriguez, PDI's assistant Southern Luzon bureau chief, said that Mallari is now in stable condition.

Rodriguez added that Mallari had been receiving threats, but the recent incident was the first direct assault on the correspondent.

Mallari, who has a wife and daughter, is a veteran PDI correspondent who has covered the police, environment, and local elections. He also wrote articles on illegal logging, toxic waste problems, and the illegal drug trade.

Mallari is also the editor-in-chief of "Ang Dyaryo Natin" ("Our Newspaper"), a local paper in Lucena for which he writes a column called "Kape't Brandy" ("Coffee and Brandy"). Glorioso is the publisher of "Ang Dyaryo Natin".

Glorioso said that he and his colleagues have an idea as to the possible suspects, but they did not want to reveal their names yet. Rodriguez said that shortly after the incident, the PDI bureau also received threats.

The Mallari shooting occurred shortly after the killing of broadcaster Carmelo Palacios in Nueva Ecija province north of Manila (see previous IFEX alert of 19 April 2007). Meanwhile, another broadcaster was sued for libel by the governor of Cebu City in Central Philippines. Still another journalist was arrested for libel, which is a criminal offence in the Philippines.

Leo Lastimosa, station manager of a local affiliate of ABS-CBN radio, was slapped with a libel suit by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia because of his exposés on alleged scams during the preparations for the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

Meanwhile, in Albay province in Southern Luzon, dzRH reporter Jun Alegre was arrested on 18 April and jailed over a 10-year-old libel case.

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