Two Journalists, Eight Soldiers Killed in Rebel Ambush
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A veteran news photographer died Friday of bullet wounds received in an apparent Communist rebel ambush that killed another Filipino journalist and eight soldiers on Thursday, defense authorities said.
Defense Ministry spokesman Eddie Pangilinan said it was the first time journalists had been killed covering the 17-year communist insurgency in the Philippines, although scores of reporters and photographers have accompanied military and rebel units in maneuvers.
Wilfredo ″Willie″ Vicoy, who had worked for United Press International for 28 years before joining Reuters here, died in a hospital in Tuguegarao, in Cagayan Province, said a colleague at Reuters’ Manila bureau who asked not to be identified.
The journalist who died at the scene was identified by military authorities as Pete Mabaza, a stringer for the Manila newspaper, Tempo.
Two soldiers and another Filipino news photographer were wounded in the ambush and a 45-minute gun battle on an isolated road about 30 miles north of Taguegarao. A defense ministry report said 10 heavily armed men in fatigues attacked two jeeps carrying the soldiers and journalists. The area is about 210 miles north of Manila.
The soldiers killed included Col. Alberto Sudiacal, deputy commander of a brigade involved in a weeklong battle with insurgents. Ambushes and limited battles in several parts of the islands have continued despite calls by President Corazon Aquino for an end to the fighting.
Brigade commander Col. Selmo Cunanan was among the wounded, the military report said.
Wounded Tempo photographer Albert Garcia said in a telephone interview that he, Vicoy and Mabaza had gone to the battle-torn area with the military unit and were returning in the convoy when they were attacked.
Garcia was at a Manila hospital.
Vicoy, who was 45, was one of Manila’s most experienced news photographers. He covered the Vietnam War for United Press International and had worked on assignment in several Asian countries. His photos have been published in newspapers and magazines around the world.
His wife, Mina, one of his six children, and two Reuters colleagues were at his side when he died at about 8 a.m., a Reuters spokesman said.