New York, March 5, 2012--Philippine authorities must apprehend the assailants in Friday's attack on radio journalist Fernando Gabio, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Two unidentified men on a black Honda motorcycle shot Gabio at least three times early on Friday morning while he was cleaning his car in front of his home in Iloilo City in central Philippines, according to news reports. The journalist reached for his own handgun during the attack but the assailants sped off before he could return fire, news reports said. As of Monday morning, Gabio, who was wounded in his right thigh, was in stable condition at Iloilo Mission Hospital, news reports said.
Gabio, a block-time reporter at Radio Mindanao Network's DYRI station, hosted the program "Mr. Expose," and was known for his sharp commentaries on candidates during election time, news reports said. Radio block-time reporters, who lease airtime from a radio station, are frequently targeted in provincial areas of the Philippines, CPJ research shows.
Police recovered three .45 caliber shells from the crime scene, according to news reports. Although witnesses gave the motorcycle's license plate number to police, no arrests had been made, according to GMA News, a national broadcast network. Marietto Valerio, the Iloilo City police director, said police were trying to identify the assailants and establish a possible motive for the crime, news reports said. Senior Police Inspector Stephen Somosot told reporters that Gabio had received death threats from anonymous callers before the attack.
"Citizens should not be fearful for their lives in front of their own homes," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "Authorities must apprehend the assailants and determine the motive in this brazen attack against Fernando Gabio."
In August 2011, Gabio's co-host, Niel Jimena, was shot and killed by gunmen on a motorcycle, but his death remains unsolved, according to news reports. Police told journalists they were investigating whether the attack against Gabio was somehow linked to Jimena's killing.
At least two journalists were killed in relation to their work last year in the Philippines. In 2011, the Philippines ranked third worst worldwide on CPJ's Impunity Index, which calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country's population.