Police have begun looking at the local drug trade in Pasig City in their hunt for suspects in Sunday night’s shooting of Daily Tribune reporter Fernan Angeles.
“We are verifying reports that the area where the reporter was shot was drug-infested,” Eastern Police District director Senior Superintendent Mario Soriano said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“It could be the reason why no one in the neighborhood wanted to speak and cooperate in the investigation,” said Soriano, who assumed the post only last week.
The EPD chief said his men are initially looking at two angles: that someone linked to the illegal drug trade wanted to silence Angeles or that the reporter was simply “nakursunadahan” or randomly picked on by neighborhood thugs.
Angeles, 42, a newspaper reporter currently assigned to Malacañang, was mauled and shot seven times in a dark alley in Barangay (village) Palatiw, near his Pasig City home.
The incident drew strong condemnation from media groups, led by the Malacañang press corps, as well as pledges of prompt action from the Palace.
He remained in critical condition at Pasig City General Hospital (PCGH) as of Tuesday afternoon, with a bullet still lodged in his back near the spine, according to a hospital official.
“But we have noted some improvements. His blood pressure is now normal. He is also conscious,” PCGH administrator Horacio Apuyan told the Inquirer, adding that the patient still needed to undergo several procedures, including blood transfusion.
Apuyan said doctors had opted not to remove the bullet for fear that the operation could paralyze him.
In Camp Crame, the spokesman of the Philippine National Police said investigators were still studying whether the incident had anything to do with Angeles’ work as a journalist or his personal life.
Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz said the Pasig City police had come across several names in their search for suspects, including one which Angeles managed to whisper to his wife Gemma before he temporarily lost consciousness at the hospital.
“We’re not talking about just one or two people. In fact we do not have just descriptions of the suspects, we actually have their names,” he told reporters.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo would be on top of the investigation into Angeles’s shooting.
“(Angeles) works with us so we’re also concerned with what happens to him. In fact, we were the ones that (his wife) called. We want to render assistance as much as possible,” Valte said.
“To us, it doesn’t matter where you come from. We worked with Fernan so it is not something you look at because he’s from one paper or another. We will act the same way. I hope it doesn’t happen again but we treat all of you equally,” she told Palace reporters.—With reports from DJ Yap and Christine O. Avendaño