Journalist shot dead in Manila

A crime journalist has been shot dead in Manila, police and colleagues yesterday said, the latest addition to a lengthening list of unsolved murders of media workers in the country.

Alex Balcoba, 56, was attacked in Quiapo late Friday outside a watch repair shop owned by his family, the National Press Club (NPC) said in a statement.

According to NPC president Paul Gutierrez, the attack on Balcoba, a reporter for the People's Brigada tabloid, brought to more than 30 the number of journalists 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," Gutierrez noted.

The two gunmen fled on a motorcycle after shooting Balcoba, he said.

Fellow journalists took Balcoba to hospital, where he was pronounced dead, he added.

Manila police confirmed Balcoba had been shot and killed, but gave no further details.

Gutierrez said police had assured him they would investigate the killing.

Colleagues described Balcoba as a news reporter and columnist at the little-known People's Brigada who had written about the Manila police since the 1990s.

Calls by AFP to the newspaper's office went unanswered. Balcoba is the second journalist to be murdered in the country this year, and the 34th since 2010 when President Aquino came to power, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

He is also the 174th journalist killed since a bloodless uprising ended the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship 30 years ago, a union official told AFP.

Just 10 suspects have been convicted for attacks on journalists across the country since 1986, according to the union.

Known for its outspoken press, the Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for reporters, where powerful figures often kill critics with impunity.

Police say some of the killings are also motivated by quarrels over personal or business matters.

One of the world's deadliest attacks against journalists took place in the Philippines in 2009, when 32 journalists were among 58 people killed by a warlord clan intent on stopping a rival's election challenge.

More than one hundred people are on trial for that massacre.

Source: Tribune