Philippine radio commentator shot, in critical condition

New York, October 9, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Philippine government to act quickly to apprehend the gunmen who shot and seriously wounded radio commentator Jose Pantoja on Monday in the city of Iligan, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) southeast of Manila.

Pantoja was a “block time” broadcaster—an independent commentator who leased time from radio station DXLS to air his commentary. Often highly partisan, such independents take on corrupt politicians and local political issues. Pantoja had made an unsuccessful run for a council seat in Iligan in May. He also served as a spokesman for the congressional campaign of former Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda Dimaporo.

His attackers apparently knew his routine, several Philippine news outlets reported. They shot him three times in the stomach in front of the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology campus at around 7 a.m. He had dropped off his daughter at a nearby school and was riding his motorcycle when he was shot, according to several local media reports.

CPJ is investigating to determine the motive for the attack.

On July 26, Philippine Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno told a CPJ delegation that he will seek justice in unsolved attacks against journalists and will use his authority to protect freedom of speech and of the press. CPJ research shows that at least 32 journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in the Philippines since 1992, making it the world’s fifth deadliest nation for journalists during that time period. The impunity rate in these cases is more than 90 percent, CPJ research shows.