Journalist covering Philippine leader shot

A newspaper reporter covering Philippine President Benigno Aquino is in a critical condition after a shooting incident in a Manila suburb, police and journalist groups said on Monday.

Fernan Angeles, who works the presidential beat for local broadsheet the Daily Tribune, was shot late Sunday near his home in a suburb of the Philippine capital, a police spokesman said.

"The violent attack was the result of a melee or brawl that erupted in Fernan Angeles' neighbourhood," Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said.

Cruz did not name any suspect, nor say whether the incident was related to Angeles' job as a journalist.

However, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, which campaigns for greater protection for media workers, warned in a statement that the attacker may be a powerful figure.

"Before he lost consciousness as he was being rushed to the hospital, Fernan said he knew his attacker and that he was afraid because... someone influential was behind it," the group said, quoting the reporter's wife.

The presidential palace expressed "shock and concern" over the incident, adding that it was providing assistance to the victim's wife.

An investigation into the shooting has been ordered, the palace said in a statement, adding that "all will be done to ensure the welfare and recovery of Mr Angeles."

Media organisations and rights groups say the Philippines is one of the world's most dangerous places for journalists. One reporter was killed in January and six media workers were slain and another wounded last year.

A total of 148 journalists have been killed in the country since 1986, according to the journalist's union.

The year 2009 was the deadliest for the country's media: among 57 people murdered in the south, 32 were media workers.

Human rights workers widely blame the killings on the prevailing "culture of impunity," where powerful figures believe they can carry out violent attacks on their critics without being punished.

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