Journalists in the Philippines have a new reason to be alarmed.
Where before, murder of media people happened only in the countryside, the record was broken with the mauling and shooting of a newsman right in Metro Manila.
And not just an ordinary newsman, but a member of the Malacanang Press Corps no less who has been covering the activities of President Benigno S. Aquino IIII. We are referring to Fernan Angeles, Palace reporter of Daily Tribune and once a reporter of the editor in chief of Philippines Today in a big Manila newspaper and his associate in a media group.
Angeles was first beaten black and blue near his residence in Pasig City and then shot several times. Due to the timely arrival of his neighbors and wife, he was rushed and immediately operated on at the Pasig City General Hospital.
The doctors were able to save Angeles after tricky operations. But at press time, he remains in critical condition because of the wounds that he suffered and a slug still embedded in his colon, removal of which may trigger his instant death. We pray for miracle so he will survive the ordeal and tell all his story on the attempt on his life.
The slay attempt was immediately brought to the attention of President Aquino and he himself directed the police to arrest the perpetrators and give justice to Angeles. The Philippine National Police started working on the case but while Angeles has identified his attackers, no arrest has been made four days into the slay attempt.
To hasten the solution of the case, leaders of various media organizations have offered reward to those who would be able to lead to the arrest of the attackers. And the media groups are waiting for results.
Based on the record of the Committee on the Protection of Journalists and other international media groups, at least 12 journalists have been killed since President Aquino took over power. Sadly, this could be an indication of the inability of the administration to protect the journalists despite its avowed promise to do so. Three years going into the infamous Maguindanao massacre in which 32 of the 58 murdered were media people, there is also still no conviction as the Ampatuans resort to technicalities and other means to delay the resolution of the case. The worry of many media people here and abroad is that the Ampatuans may even be eventually absolved of the charges. Journalists should be vigilant always as they do their daily work to bring out the truth no matter who gets hurts.