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Journalist injured in attempt on his life

(CMFR/IFEX) - Police have yet to arrest the gunman and accomplice in the attempted killing of a Kalinga-based radio broadcaster in Tabuk City, Kalinga province, on 15 May 2010. Tabuk City is approximately 317 kilometers north of Manila.

The alleged gunman chased Jerome Tabanganay, radio anchor for the government-run DzRK Radyo ng Bayan-Kalinga, inside the radio station compound and shot him four times in the legs. Initial police investigations said the incident was work-related.

Tabanganay said the gunman, who was waiting inside the radio compound, approached him as he arrived for his morning program at around 6:45 a.m. (local time) and asked for his name. Sensing danger, he ran inside the radio station, but the gunman chased and shot him, hitting his knee and the back of his right leg. The wounded Tabanganay was able to reach his radio booth, and cried for help.

The gunman escaped on board a motorcycle outside the station driven by another unidentified man. Another of the station's employees took Tabanganay to the hospital where he is currently recuperating.

Although Tabuk City Police say the crime is work-related, they are not disregarding other possible motives for the attack on Tabanganay.

In a phone interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) on 17 May, PO3 Benjamin Cawilan said that Tabanganay's work as a commentator in his radio program might have been related to the incident. In his news commentary program "Agenda", which airs daily from seven to nine in the morning and at 12 noon, he discusses topics related to his advocacy on good governance and reads messages from listeners about local issues such as corruption and crime.

Tabanganay told CMFR in another phone interview, also on 17 May, that he had been receiving death threats through text messages that say, "I will kill you", and other similar warnings prior to the incident. He speculates that his commentaries might have hurt certain political figures in the province.

However, Tabanganay also mentioned that a local candidate who lost an election had accused him of being biased towards his rival. He said this might also have been a possible motive for his attacker. Tabanganay opted not to disclose the name of the candidate as he is waiting for the outcome of the police investigation and has yet to file a complaint.

Elections have always been a dangerous time for Filipino journalists. On 23 November 2009, a local politician, who is a member of a political clan in Maguindanao, allegedly led a hundred men in killing 57 persons including 32 journalists and media workers who were part of the convoy led by his rival politician's wife to file his Certificate of Candidacy at the regional Commission on Elections office. The attack, known as the "Ampatuan Massacre", was the worst attack on journalists and media workers in recent history.

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