Bangkok, June 30, 2023—Philippine authorities should thoroughly investigate the shooting of journalist Joshua Abiad, determine if the attack was related to his reporting, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.
Abiad, a photojournalist who covers the police for the local outlet Remate Online, was receiving hospital treatment for two gunshot wounds and was in stable condition as of Friday. At least three of Abiad’s family members were injured in the attack and were receiving treatment at a hospital in Manila; one bystander was also shot.
At least two journalists have been killed in relation to their work since Ferdinand Marcos Jr. became president of the Philippines in mid-2022; CPJ is investigating the motive of a third killing. Journalists, editors, and activists have told CPJ that, while Marcos Jr. has demurred from the overt antagonism toward the media seen under his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, those rhetorical changes have not been accompanied by substantive actions to improve conditions for the press.
“How many journalists need to be shot before the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration takes its country’s impunity problem seriously?” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Philippine authorities must stop at nothing to track down and hold to account those responsible for shooting journalist Joshua Abiad and his family members, as well the culprits behind all other journalist shootings in recent years.”
Police spokesperson Redrico Maranan Jr. said Friday that police had created a special investigation task group to pursue the case.
Authorities have reviewed surveillance footage of the incident, which showed a man wearing a black jacket firing several shots into Abiad’s car while a separate motorcycle rider acted as a lookout.
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency composed of Philippine police and tasked with solving media murders, said in a statement that Abiad also served as a witness in drug cases for the Philippine National Police and Drug Enforcement Agency.
The task force did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed request for comment, including on whether it considered the attack likely related to Abiad’s journalism. Remate Online did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment on the attack.
The Philippines ranked seventh on CPJ’s most recent Impunity Index, which spotlights countries worldwide where journalists are slain and the killers go free.