Reporters Without Borders welcomes the progress that the police have made in the investigation into the shooting attack on radio presenter Fernando Gabio on 2 March in Iloilo City, as it shows they are taking the case seriously. We encourage them to continue.
According to Iloilo News Today (iloilonewstoday.com), Iloilo City police chief Marietto Valerio announced on 5 March that a suspect has been identified from photos. The identification was made by Gabio’s two nephews, who were at his home at the time of the attack.
After receiving telephone threats, Gabio had asked his nephews to accompany him at all times and they had noticed during the weeks prior to the shooting that he was followed on several occasions by two men on a motorcycle who were dressed in black jackets and wearing helmets.
On the basis of their description of the two men and the motorcycle, the police showed them photographs of known or suspected criminals and they identified one, the alleged leader of a local criminal gang.
03-03-2012 Radio host narrowly escapes murder attempt
Reporters Without Borders condemns today’s attempted murder of Radio Mindanao Network presenter Fernando “Kapid” Gabio, who came under fire from two men on a motorcycle while outside his home in Iloilo City on the central island of Panay.
“The shooting attack on Gabio is the latest in a long line of attacks and threats on journalists and is part of a general climate of violence for media personnel,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We remind the authorities of their duty to conduct effective investigations into these acts of violence and to have the courage to explore the possible links with organized crime and politicians. They must end the situation of impunity that has prevailed for too many years in the Philippines.”
Gabio was washing his car outside his home at 7 a.m. when two men on a motorcycle fired three shots at him before making off, using a method often employed for contract killings. He was taken to Iloilo Mission Hospital with a gunshot injury to the leg that is not life-threatening.
Aged 62, Gabio works for radio DYRI, which is part of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), hosting a programme called “Mr. Expose” in which he exposes alleged corruption cases. He has also hosted a political programme during election periods. He recently received anonymous telephone threats.
Gabio is far from being the first journalist to be injured or killed in a targeted attack in the Philippines. Fellow DYRI-RMN presenter Niel Jimena was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle on 22 August 2011, after receiving threats. The police said they did not rule out the possibility of a link between the attempt on Gabio’s life and Jimena’s murder six months ago.
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a total of 150 journalists have been killed since the return to democracy in 1986. Paramilitary groups and private militias were to blame for many of these deaths.
Nearly two years after the Maguindanao massacre, in which 32 journalists died, the media freedom situation is deteriorating dangerously in the Philippines, which is ranked 140th out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.