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Gunmen wound journalist in Philippines

MANILA (AFP) – A journalist was among five people wounded in an ambush in Manila, Philippine police said yesterday, the latest of a long list of violence against journalists.

A photographer for the Manila-based tabloid Remate, Joshua Abiad was wounded in the arm when gunmen in a car attacked his vehicle, District Police chief Brigadier-General Nicolas Torre said.

Abiad and the other injured people, including his child and brother, were receiving treatment at a hospital in the Philippine capital, Torre added.

Police have not named a suspect but Torre told Manila radio station DWPM in an interview it could be linked to his work documenting a deadly seven-year-old crackdown on illegal drugs.

Abiad is “a police beat reporter and is witness to some drug cases, so there are summons sent to them to testify”, he said without naming the courts or cases involved.

“The heinous act is an attack not only on the individuals involved but also on the freedom of the press and the values we hold dear as a society,” Manila police chief Major-General Edgar Okubo said in a statement.

Manila Police Chief Major-General Edgar Okubo. PHOTO: THE STAR

The archipelago nation is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, and most killings often go unpunished.

With three journalists killed in the past year, the Philippines ranks seventh in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ “Impunity Index”, which measures unsolved journalist murders relative to the total population.

It is rare for journalists to be attacked in Manila. Often, radio broadcasters outside the capital are targeted.

Thousands of mostly poor men were killed during the anti-narcotics crackdown launched by former president Rodrigo Duterte during his 2016-2022 term.

An international investigation was launched into possible crimes against humanity committed during that campaign.

Duterte’s successor Ferdinand Marcos has continued the crackdown while pushing for a greater focus on prevention and rehabilitation.