Reporter killed during a police operation

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – A tabloid reporter covering an anti-illegal drugs operation was killed in a gunfight between the police team he came with and the alleged members of a crime syndicate in the town of Taytay, Rizal, approximately 17 kms from Manila, last 3 June 2009.

Tiburcio “Jojo” Trajano Jr., a correspondent of the Manila-based tabloid Remate in Rizal, was shot as he was allegedly helping a wounded police officer, The Philippine Star quoted Rizal provincial police director Senior Supt. Ireneo Dordas as saying. Trajano was pronounced dead at the Manila East Medical Hospital upon arrival. The police officer he helped, PO2 Virgilio Dela Cruz, also died.

At around 3 a.m. (local time), armed men led by a certain “Soren” fired at the Rizal Provincial Special Operations Group which had just entered the house allegedly occupied by Soren’s group. Dordas told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) last 4 June 2009 that police have apprehended six alleged members of the drug syndicate.

Remate’s publisher Rey Briones said in a phone interview with CMFR that Trajano advised his editors that he would join a police operation about a week ago. A 4 June 2009 report in Remate said that Trajano was supposed to send exclusive photos on the raid.

Briones and Trajano’s partner Raquel Tejada told CMFR that Trajano usually joined police operations to get stories. “It’s his style. He doesn’t rely on press releases,” Briones said in Filipino.

“It was an unfortunate incident…. Yesterday, I was expecting his usual news advisory but what I received was news that he had been killed in the raid,” Briones told CMFR last 4 June 2009.

The incident prompted PNP chief Director-General Jesus Versoza to order the review of procedures in letting reporters join police operations, the online news site GMANews.TV reported last 3 June.

“We will review the procedures pertaining to that but we have left it to the territorial units to see to the safety of everybody–not only of operatives but also others who join police operations.”

He also reminded the press to ensure their safety. “We hope that our media personalities will also coordinate properly and also consider the security threats that are there when they join police operations,” Verzosa said as quoted by Inquirer.net.

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