Journalist survives shooting

New York, August 16, 2004—An unidentified gunman ambushed radio commentator Edward Balida in the public market in Valencia City, Bukidnon Province, on Friday, August 13. Balida, a broadcaster for the Bukidnon affiliate of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), survived the gunshot wound, which shattered his left hand, according to local media groups and news reports.

The Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) is investigating whether the attack was related to his journalism.

Balida stopped at the market before work early on the morning of August 13, when he heard a gunshot in the dark and realized that he had been shot, according to the Philippines-based press freedom organization Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

Balida hosts an early-morning commentary program on the radio station IFM-DXVR in Bukidnon, where he has worked since June. Balida told CMFR he believes that the shooting was an assassination attempt in response to his commentary against drug trafficking. Angelito Paraguya, RMN station manager in the nearby town of Malaybalay, confirmed that Balida has been a vocal supporter of the government’s anti-drug crusade, which may have angered local drug gangs, according to The Associated Press.

Police are investigating the incident but have not identified any suspects, according to international news reports.

The shooting was the most recent in a string of violent attacks against journalists in the Philippines. Local media groups have expressed alarm at the rate and intensity of the attacks on the press and have called for authorities to take steps to safeguard press freedom.

CPJ is investigating the murders of five journalists, all of them radio commentators, killed in the Philippines in 2004. Forty-four journalists have been killed since the nation instituted democratic rule in 1986. No one has been prosecuted in any of these cases.