Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero condemned in the strongest terms the ambush of a three-member ABS-CBN News team in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on Dec. 26, as he called on authorities to speed up the investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Escudero said the assassination attempt on reporter Ronnie Enderes, cameraman Emelito Balansag and driver Garry Montecillo was “a serious attack against press freedom.”
“There is no doubt that the ambush was work-related. Although no one was seriously injured, it is important that authorities go after those responsible for the incident and put them behind bars, otherwise there will be no end to the culture of impunity against journalists,” Escudero said.
The Iligan City-based news crew was in Marawi to gather updates on the Dec. 24 bombing of a tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Ramain town when they were attacked by motorcycle-riding gunmen.
The three survived unscathed but the shooting damaged their vehicle.
Enderes also serves as the President of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Iligan Chapter.
ABS-CBN released a full statement on the night of the attack:
The statement in full:
“ABS-CBN News condemns in the strongest terms the attack Saturday on our News team by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Bangolo, Marawi City.
“The 3-man News team composed of reporter Ronnie Enderes, cameraman Emilito Balansag, and driver Gary Montecillo was traveling back to Iligan from Ramain, Lanao del Sur where they covered the bombing of a tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
“According to our news team, the gunmen riding in two motorcycles started following them from Marawi City. One assailant fired at the driver’s side, hitting the door and narrowly missing Montecillo. Another fired at the front passenger’s side, the bullet grazing the lower portion of the door.
“We are relieved that Ronnie, Emilito, and Gary are safe and unharmed. We are also grateful to the Philippine Army’s 103rd Brigade for providing temporary refuge to our News team.
“We urge the authorities to investigate this ambush and bring the perpetrators to justice soonest, even as we vow to continue with our duties as journalists.”
Last August, Escudero also denounced the strafing of the coffee shop owned by ABS-CBN broadcaster Anthony Taberna by still unidentified gunmen.
The veteran lawmaker said that all means must be exhausted to put a stop to the crime against media personnel, who are only doing their jobs.