MAY 18, 2005
Posted: June 15, 2005

Pablo Hernandez, Bulgar

Hernandez, a self-described “hard-hitting’ crime columnist with the tabloid Bulgar (Expose), survived an apparent assassination attempt when he exchanged gunshots with two motorcycle-riding assailants just before dawn in the Valenzuela suburb of Manila. It was the second attack on Hernandez this year; he survived a stabbing at a pool hall by a hired killer in February.

Driving in his car with a companion, Hernandez noticed they were being tailed by a motorcycle. Senior Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil told reporters that two unidentified gunmen riding on the motorcycle opened fire on Hernandez’s car. Hernandez told The Philippines Inquirer that he shot back. The two unidentified gunmen then returned fire and hit Hernandez’s car before he pulled over to take cover on the street. The gunmen escaped the scene. Hernandez said he suspects that police are behind both attempts on his life and declined police protection, saying “I don’t trust the police right now,” according to The Inquirer.

The hired killer arrested in the February attack, Joel Reduca, has confessed that two police officers hired him to kill Hernandez, according to local reports.

Hernandez is now a licensed gun owner, according to Agence France-Presse, and part of a growing trend of journalists arming themselves in self-defense. In May, Hernandez and other police reporters formed a group the Association of Responsible Media (ARMED) to train journalists to defend themselves.

Two days before the shooting, President Gloria Arroyo launched a press freedom fund with almost $100,000 to help fight attacks on the media.