Radio journalist survives shooting in Philippines

New York, January 8, 2010—Philippine authorities must quickly investigate the shooting of radio broadcaster Eugene Paet, an anchorman for Radio DWRS in Vigan city in Ilocos Sur province. According to local and international media reports, Paet, 47, was shot in the stomach by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he was on his way to work on Thursday evening. Paet remained in serious condition in the intensive care unit of a local hospital on Friday evening.

The Associated Press cited Paet’s son, Eugene Jr., as saying his father may have been targeted because of his radio commentaries about local politics. Other local and international media reports cited regional police director Chief Superintendent Constantino Azares as saying that the shooting is still being investigated, and it is not clear that the attack can be linked to Paet’s work as a reporter on the news program “Commando Radio” in Vigan, about 250 miles (400 kilometers)  north of Manila.

“We join with Eugene Paet’s colleagues, friends, and family in wishing him a full recovery,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Attacks by motorcycle-mounted gunmen have become regular occurrences in the Philippines, and most of the cases remain unprosecuted, if they are investigated at all. This shooting must not be allowed to become another one of those unexplained statistics.”

CPJ listed the Philippines as the deadliest country for journalists in 2009, following the killing of at least 29 journalists in a single incident in Maguindanao in the south of the country on November 23. But more journalists—at least 37—have been killed since 1992, and the overwhelmingly vast majority of their deaths remain unprosecuted. Many of those died in circumstances similar to Thursday night’s attack on Paet. In 2009, the Philippines ranked sixth on CPJ’s Impunity Index, as reported in Getting Away with Murder.