Killings, threats against journalists escalating

Another journalist was killed, three more received threats for exposing corruption.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Another radio broadcaster was shot dead, the fourth journalist killed under the new administration.

According to a report by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Romeo Olea, 49, was riding a motorcycle on his way to the radio dwEB office in Nabua, Camarines Sur when he was shot at around 5:52 a.m. along the national highway.

Olea was immediately brought to the Riconda Medical Center. He was dead when he reached the hospital.

According to the local police, two 9 mm. shells were found at the crime scene. Police have yet to determine if the killing is work-related.

The CMFR said that if the murder is work-related, Olea’s killing would be the fourth case of a journalist/media worker killed in the line of duty under the administration of Benigno Aquino III, and the third in 2011. He would also be the sixth journalist from the Bicol Region killed in the line of duty since 1986, and the second from Camarines Sur province.

Threats against journalists continue

Meanwhile, in just one week, three other journalists who exposed alleged corrupt practices were harassed by local authorities.

In Kalinga, Governor Jocel Baac barged into the radio booth of Kalinga broadcaster Jerome Tabanganay, June 7 and struck the latter in the mouth with a microphone.

According to accounts by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Tabanganay was about to end his program “Agenda” on dzRK Radyo ng Bayan-Kalinga when Baac arrived with his men brandishing Armalite rifles. Baac threatened the broadcaster, saying: “Go on. Keep talking. I will kill you.”

The brazen assault on Tabanganay “shows the extent to which impunity has thrived in this benighted land of ours,” the NUJP said in a statement.

On May 19 last year, Tabanganay survived an assassination attempt after he began criticizing the resurgence of “jueteng,” an illegal numbers game in the province.

“This incident shows the extent to which this system of governance has allowed petty tyrants and the enemies of truth to use everything at their disposal to silence those with whom they disagree with impunity,” the NUJP said.

The media watchdog called on the Aquino administration to immediately sanction Baac and to ensure the safety of Tabanganay and the media community in that province.

Meanwhile, in Davao City, Philippine Daily Inquirer Davao correspondent Jeffrey Tupas became a subject of attack by a paid advertisement of Customs Collectors Association of the Philippines (CCAP).

Tupas wrote a story on the Davao Bureau of Customs’ (BOC) failure to check on the illegal entry of smuggled rice.

Contrary to the claim of CCAP, the NUJP-Davao chapter said that Tupas also took the BOC’s side on the issue. The NUJP-Davao said that Tupas only reported a fact on the irregularity involving the BOC of Davao then headed by Anju Nereo Castigador, which failed to duly check the entry of some 40 container vans that was found out to contain thousands of sacks of Thailand rice.

“For the CCAP to come out with a paid advertisement on a newspaper, it is taking any means to come out and attack the messenger instead of facing the issue at hand. This action is an affront to press freedom, for this has often been the ploy of many public officials to come out in attack mode and vilify the media and accuse them of bias and distortion of facts,” Jessie Casalda, NUJP-Davao chairman, said.

In Cotabato City, another radio broadcaster received threats from still unidentified sources.

According to NUJP, on June 1, at around 7:15 pm, several men who introduced themselves as members of the intelligence unit of the Marine Battalion Landing Team (MLBT) went to the Catholic Church-run radio station dxMS to look for Vern Simon, 42, who was out of the office then. The men, claiming to be under a certain Capt. Rey Torres of MLBT-7, said Simon was under threat.

Simon called MBLT-7 Commanding Officer Doroteo Jose Jalandoni. Jalandoni confirmed that his unit has received word that there was an imminent threat to kill him and promised to provide him full security.

Simon has been hearing about the threat to his life since May 16 this year.

Simon also reported that Cotabato City councilor Willy Bueno also called him up to warn him to be vigilant as he also received similar information from his “sources”. ()

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