Tabloid columnist slain at his Manila shop
A tabloid columnist who also ran a small business in Quiapo, Manila, was shot dead in front of his shop by a still-unidentified man on Friday night.
Alexander Balcoba, 56, was standing in front of the watch repair shop owned by his family on Quezon Boulevard when he was shot in the back of the head around 7 p.m., the Manila Police District (MPD) said.
The attack on Balcoba, who wrote a column in the tabloid People’s Brigada News, drew condemnation from the National Press Club (NPC), who said more than 30 journalists have been killed in the country since 2010, with no suspects yet brought to justice.
“The culture of impunity that is behind these attacks is yet to be addressed by the authorities despite their repeated boasts and promises,” NPC president Paul Gutierrez said in a statement on Saturday.
SPO2 Richard Escarlan, the homicide investigator on the case, said bystanders heard a gunshot minutes after they last saw Balcoba standing in front of the shop. They then saw the alleged shooter walking casually toward a companion who was waiting on a motorcycle about 10 meters away.
The two men sped off on the southbound lane of Quezon Boulevard. A .45-cal. bullet casing was later found at the crime scene, Escarlan said. Balcoba was brought by his son to Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The MPD has formed a task force, headed by deputy district director for operations, Senior Supt. Marcelino Pedrozo Jr., to investigate the killing.
In an interview, Pedrozo said the probe was considering all possible angles.
He noted that Balcoba’s last column, “Sapul,” came out Feb. 29. “He wasn’t calling anyone out in his last column,” he said.
But according to Balcoba’s son, he said, the victim had received threats through text messages because of his work in the paper, which the columnist would just delete.
The task force also gathered that Balcoba earlier had problems with the owner of the lot partially occupied by the victim’s watch repair shop, and that Balcoba was being asked to leave the property since last year, Pedrozo said. With a report from AFP
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