Monday, June 25, 2007

Journalist Killed In Southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 25 Jun) – A Filipino broadcaster was killed and his companions wounded in an attack early Monday in the southern Philippine island of Tawi-Tawi, officials said.

Officials said gunmen killed Vicente Sumalpong, of the state-owned Radyo Ng Bayan, and wounded another journalist Vema Andam. Their unidentified driver was also injured.

The trio was on a motorcycle when gunmen fired on them near the Sea Orchid Subdivision at around 5.25 a.m.

“We still do not know the motive of the attack, but authorities are investigating this case,” a regional military spokesman, Major Eugene Batara, told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Batara said the gunmen fled after the attack. Crime investigators have recovered empty bullet shells of Uzi sub-machine gun and .45-caliber pistol. He said troops were helping the local police force hunt down the assailants.

Police were also investigating reports that Sumalpong had filed charges against several people in connection with his work and that a court in Bonggao is to decide on the case this week.

It was unknown if the case had anything to do with his murder. Andam is being guarded by policemen in hospital in Bonggao.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines condemned the attack. It said 52 journalists have been killed in the country since President Gloria Arroyo rose to power in 2001. The Philippines is second only to Iraq as the most dangerous place for journalists. (Mindanao Examiner)

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