Photojournalist’s work, role as drug witness ‘motives’ for ambush
The Philippine National Police has created a special investigation task group to probe the brazen attack that wounded a photojournalist, three of his relatives, and a bystander in Quezon City in broad daylight on Thursday.
In a statement on Friday, public information office chief Brig. Gen. Redrico Maranan said PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. has ordered the National Capital Region Police Office and the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) to expedite the investigation and quickly identify the suspects behind the shooting of Rene Joshua Abiad, a 37-year-old photojournalist of Manila-based tabloid Remate.
“We are sparing no effort in our quest to gather substantial evidence and testimonies to shed light on this incident, ultimately leading to the immediate arrest of the perpetrators,” Maranan said.
Maranan said investigators were already looking at possible motives for the attack on Abiad and his family. His work as a journalist was among the primary angles being studied.
Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Undersecretary Paul Gutierrez noted that Abiad serves as a witness in court of both the PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in cases involving illegal drugs.
“We call upon the public to provide any information that may be crucial to solving this case and bringing the perpetrators to justice,” Maranan said.
In a report from the QCPD, Abiad and his family of six were on board their Ford Everest around 3 p.m. on Thursday. Upon reaching the corner of Corumi and Gasan Streets in Barangay Masambong, two male suspects alighted from a Toyota Vios and started shooting at the victims’ vehicle.
Another male suspect on a motorcycle was also on the scene and tailed the sedan as they escaped along Corumi toward the direction of Del Monte Avenue.
Four of the seven passengers in the victims’ SUV were injured. Abiad, who was at the front passenger seat of the SUV, sustained two gunshots. Also injured were his brother Renato Abiad Jr., 41, who drove the SUV, Abiad’s 8-year-old nephew and a 4-year-old niece.
Abiad’s wife Elizabeth, 37, and their 6-year-old daughter, and Renato’s wife Cherly, 42, were not hurt.
Jeffrey Ngo Cao, 47, a bystander, was hit by a stray bullet.An injured Renato still managed to drive and bring the wounded to the hospital for medical treatment. They are now in stable condition.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, as well as Abiad’s colleagues from the NCRPO Press Club and National Press Club, condemned the attack against the journalist.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines has cautioned journalists against becoming witnesses to police antidrug operations.