Cops looking at all possible angles in shooting of Iloilo broadcast journalist
ILOILO CITY, Philippines—Unidentified gunmen shot and wounded a broadcaster in front of his house in Iloilo City late Tuesday evening on International Human Rights Day.
Jonavin “Jhey-R” Villalba, 43, a reporter of radio station dyOK Aksyon Radyo Iloilo, was hit on his right ankle and a toe on his left foot, according to Senior Supt. Ruperto Floro, Iloilo City police chief.
He was brought to the Iloilo Mission Hospital here where he was declared in stable condition although he was scheduled to undergo minor surgery on Wednesday, said Floro.
Villalba was among four broadcasters attacked in the past 12 days, three of whom were shot dead.
Those killed were Joas Dignos in Valencia, Bukidnon on Nov. 29, Michael Milo Tandag City on Dec. 9 and Rogelio ‘Tata’ Butalid in Tagum City on Dec. 11.
Two unidentified men wearing black jackets and helmets on board a black motorcycle shot Villalba past 11 p.m. as he was opening the gate of his house in Barangay Cuartero in Jaro District in Iloilo City, according to Chief Insp. Rhea Santos, Jaro District police chief.
Santos said Villalba was opening the gate of his house when the motorcycle slowed down about three meters from the victim and repeatedly fired before speeding away.
Villalba had sensed that he was being tailed on his way home on his motorcycle from the Jaro police station where he covered police stories.
“He told us he passed by two men on a motorcycle who followed him. He was crouching while opening the lower lock of their gate when he was fired upon,” Santos told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Investigators recovered nine empty shells from a 9-millimeter firearm at the crime scene.
Police were still determining the motive of the shooting and the identity of the suspects, as of late Wednesday.
Villalba told investigators that he had no known personal enemies.
“We do not want to speculate on the motive of the attack and the identities of the suspects. We are following up all possible angles,” Santos said.
The victim also told investigators that a man who fit the description of the one of his attackers had inquired about his residence days before the attack.
The radio station has been airing hard-hitting commentaries against illegal drug operations in the city for the past several months.
But station manager John Paul Tia said Villalba did not host any public affairs programs.
“I cannot think of any reason for the attack. Perhaps somebody is sending us a message,” Tia said.
He called for a “credible” investigation on the attack against Villalba.
The Iloilo Press Club and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemned the attack and called for a thorough investigation to determine the motive and to identify and arrest the assailants and those behind the shooting.
“We are saddened and at the same time outraged by the cowardly attack on (Villalba).
This dastardly act has no place in a democratic society and physical attacks on members of the Fourth Estate and innocent civilians can never be justified, local journalists say.
“It also has serious implications to claims that the city remains peaceful,” said IPC President Francis Allan Angelo.
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