NEW YORK, September 4, 2007 – The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned about the recent violent attack against journalist Joel Abilay, a radio reporter for Radio GMA (RGMA) in Cadiz City of the province of Negros Occidental.
According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and local media reports, Abilay was stabbed twice in the back and seriously wounded by an unknown assailant while walking in a Cadiz City market during the early evening of August 31. He was rushed to a local hospital and his condition has since stabilized, according to the reports.
Jessie Morin, the police officer in charge of the case, said the assailant was male and believed to be in his early teens. He also said police investigations into the incident would focus on whether the attack was related to Abilay’s work as a journalist. A local reporter familiar with Abilay’s reporting said that he sometimes worked with police in researching stories on illegal gambling and the drug trade in the area, according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.
“The violent attack against Joel Abilay underscores the insecure work environment that nearly all provincial Filipino reporters face,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “We call upon the relevant authorities to expedite investigations into this violent act and bring the culprit to justice.”
Thirty-two journalists have been killed for their work in the Philippines since 1992, making it the world’s fifth deadliest nation for journalists, according to CPJ research. The impunity rate for these cases is over 90 percent, marking one of the highest such unsolved murder ratios for journalists in the world, according to CPJ research.