CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines—A broadcaster here survived an attack by unidentified assailants on Thursday night—a day after the commemoration of the International Day Against Impunity.
Michael James Licuanan of Bombo Radyo was driving home on a motorbike after his evening commentary program on Bombo Radyo when two men, also riding on a motorcycle, fired at him. The incident occurred near the Cogon market here at about 9:30 p.m.
Licuanan was the ninth journalist attacked in the Philippines this year.
According to police reports, the first shot missed Licuanan but caused him to crash on the pavement. The assailants reportedly stopped and one got off the bike and fired at the broadcaster, hitting him on the left buttock. The bullet exited his abdomen.
Out of danger
Although critically wounded, Licuanan was able to run to a nearby fire station and seek help. He was rushed to a hospital in the city where he underwent an operation, said Senior Insp. Elmer Robas, station commander of the Cogon Police Precinct.
Police operatives sent to the area later were able to recover two empty shells fired from a .45-caliber pistol, Robas added.
Licuanan was declared out of danger and taken out of the intensive care unit of the hospital towards noon the next day. The name of the hospital was withheld for security reasons.
The station’s security guard told the Inquirer the armed men were seen outside the radio station hours before the incident. But the station had no CCTV camera to record events taking place inside its premises.
The hit men were wearing full-face helmets and black jackets and apparently tailed Licuanan, the Inquirer gathered.
The National Union of the Philippines (NUJP) said it was “most likely that the motive of the attack against Licuanan was work-related, but as to who ordered it remained unclear.”
Celso Maldecir, Bombo Radyo Cagayan de Oro City station manager, said Licuanan had been commenting and reporting on the arrest of one Sammy Yusop by Phillipine Drug Enforcement Agency (Pdea) agents.
Yusop had earlier been arrested by Pdea operatives at the parking lot of one of the malls here after he claimed a packet of suspected shabu (metamphetamine hydrocloride) sent through a commercial courier. Pdea said they had seized from him 1.5 kilograms of the illegal drug with an estimated street value of P15 million.
Michael Bustamante, Licuanan’s colleague at Bombo Radyo, said other issues might also be behind the slay-try on the broadcaster.
There are other angles, Bustamante said, “like the issue on the city’s flyover projects.”
In Davao City, Jessie Casalda, NUJP-Davao region chair, said “the stark condition of media practitioners in the country remains a testament to the enormous monster called impunity.”
“This monster is cloaked by an inefficient and largely discriminatory justice system against the powerless. This monster feeds on a system that breeds warlords, who ride roughshod over the rights of ordinary people and do not hesitate to strike out at anyone who dares go against their wicked ways,” he said.
Any media practitioner “becomes easy prey,” the NUJP said.
“While we are confronted with a low conviction rate of perpetrators of these journalist killings and attacks, we continue to see one colleague after another fall,” while others are subjected to harassment in various forms—death threats, their radio stations or media offices attacked, grenades lobbed at their their houses,among others, ” Casalda said. With a report from Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao