3rd
MEDIA SLAY IN 3 WEEKS: RADIOMAN MURDERED, ANOTHER HURT IN ILOILO

DECEMBER 10 -A single pop, then a succession of gunshots. A third journalist killed in Mindanao
in two weeks. Rogelio Butalid had just stepped out of a radio station here after hosting a public service program on Wednesday morning when a man wearing dark glasses approached him and fired several times, witnesses said. Butalid, 46, a block timer for 107.9 FM Radyo Natin and councilman of Barangay (village) Mankilam, was killed past 9 a.m. after his hourlong program “Ang Kamatuoran (The Truth),” said Elmer Tandoc, the station manager. The killing came just less than a week after the deaths of a radio personality, Michael Milo, in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur province, and another radioman, Joas Dignos, in Valencia City, Bukidnon province, a week before. (Photo: Rogelio Butalid in this undated photo released by the Davao del Norte Press and Radio-TV Club. And Google Maps of Tagum City. (Mindanao Examiner)

ALSO:  4 suspects tagged in killing of broadcast journalist in
Tandag City

DECEMBER 10 -Police authorities in Tandag City have announced that they have identified four suspects in the December 6 killing of broadcaster Michael D. Milo (photo). However, a police news release coursed through the Philippine Information Agency did not identify the suspects “pending further action.”

ALSO: Killing of journalists a nat’l catastrophe’;
3 int’l groups urge decisive gov’t action to end impunity

DECEMBER 13 -An international human rights watchdog has urged President Aquino to declare the deadly attacks on Filipino journalists a “national catastrophe,” saying that the situation “threatens civil liberties” in the country. Two other groups—Reporters Without Borders and the European Union delegation to the Philippines—issued statements condemning the attacks and urging the government to take decisive action. “In the face of all this violence against journalists, we urge the police to deploy whatever means are necessary to arrest those responsible and end the unacceptable impunity,” the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. “Only a firm response from the authorities will deter others from targeting news providers.” The Philippines is ranked 140th among 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

ALSO: Police file charges against slain journalist’s estranged wife, 7 others

Police authorities in Tandag City filed murder charges against eight people, including the estranged wife of slain broadcaster Michael D. Milo. “A special investigative task group codenamed “Tata Butalid” has been activated to handle the investigation, according to Gadingan. Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon, an ally of the slain broadcaster, announced a reward kitty of P100,000 “from personal funds” to speed up the resolution of the Butalid murder case.


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3rd media slay in 2 weeks Radioman murdered; another hurt in Iloilo


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JOB OR POLITICS? Radio journalist Rogelio Butalid lies dead outside the Radyo Natin station in Tagum City after being shot by a lone gunman on Wednesday. Butalid (inset) was also a village councilor. FRINSTON LIM/INQUIRER MINDANAO

TAGUM CITY, DECEMBER 16, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Frinston L. Lim Inquirer Mindanao - A single pop, then a succession of gunshots. A third journalist killed in Mindanao in two weeks.

Rogelio Butalid had just stepped out of a radio station here after hosting a public service program on Wednesday morning when a man wearing dark glasses approached him and fired several times, witnesses said.

Butalid, 46, a block timer for 107.9 FM Radyo Natin and councilman of Barangay (village) Mankilam, was killed past 9 a.m. after his hourlong program “Ang Kamatuoran (The Truth),” said Elmer Tandoc, the station manager.

The killing came just less than a week after the deaths of a radio personality, Michael Milo, in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur province, and another radioman, Joas Dignos, in Valencia City, Bukidnon province, a week before.

On the eve of Butalid’s killing, unidentified men shot and wounded a radio reporter, Jonavin “Jhey-R” Villalba, in front of his house in Iloilo City.

Culture of impunity

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the attacks and called for the immediate resolution of the cases.

The NUJP said the culture of impunity in the country has remained and even worsened under the Aquino administration over three and a half years.

In Manila, Malacañang’s Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma described as “saddening” the killing of Butalid in a press briefing on Wednesday.

“We have sent our condolences regarding this incident and the Philippine National Police is expected to take appropriate actions to get those responsible for the killing of Mr. Butalid,” Coloma said in Filipino.

So far, the NUJP has recorded 19 work-related media killings during the Aquino administration.

“Four attacks with three dead and one wounded journalist in 12 days is shocking even in a country that has long been among those at the top of the list of the most murderous countries for journalists,” the group said in a statement.

The gunmen in all four attacks remain at large, police said.



Tagum attack
Butalid was about to board his motorcycle outside the Leonardia Building on a busy intersection in downtown Tagum when he was ambushed, according to police and witnesses.

“We heard a single pop then a succession of gunshots down below minutes after he had stepped out of the announcer’s booth,” said Roy Obar, an employee of Radyo Natin station that was occupying the upper floor of the building.

Witnesses said that after shooting the broadcaster in the head and body, the gunman ran back to a waiting motorcycle driven by an accomplice and fled.

“He (Butalid) was a principled man, a fighter,” said Rod Laguna, another broadcaster. “We would stand by what he believed was the truth.”

Butalid had been hosting the public service program paid for by the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco) under the National Electrification Administration for almost a year.

He had been known for his stinging commentaries against supporters of a rival Daneco faction under the Cooperative Development Authority, Tandoc said.

Colleagues said Butalid had been receiving death threats and that during his radio program, he even joked about receiving threats from unknown persons.

Iloilo attack

Villalba, 43, a reporter of dyOK Aksyon Radyo Iloilo, was wounded in the right ankle and left foot, according to Senior Supt. Ruperto Floro, Iloilo City police chief.

He was brought to Iloilo Mission Hospital where he was declared in stable condition.

Two unidentified men wearing black jackets and helmets and riding on a black motorcycle repeatedly shot at Villalba past 11 p.m. as he was opening the gate of his house at Barangay Cuartero in Jaro District, according to Chief Insp. Rhea Santos, Jaro police chief.

Villalba, who was covering crime cases, sensed that he was being tailed on his way home on his motorcycle from the Jaro police station.

“He told us he passed by two men on a motorcycle who followed him. He was crouching while opening the lower lock of their gate when he was fired upon,” Santos told the Inquirer.

Police were still determining the motive of the shooting and the identity of the gunmen. Villalba told investigators that he had no known personal enemies.

The radio station has been airing hard-hitting commentaries against illegal drug operations in the city for the past several months.

But its manager, John Paul Tia, said Villalba did not host any public affairs program. “I cannot think of any reason for the attack. Perhaps somebody is sending us a message,” Tia said.

72 deaths since 1992

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranks the Philippines as the third-worst in its “impunity index” of countries that fail to combat violence against the media.

By its own count, the CPJ has said at least 72 journalists had been killed in the Philippines since 1992, excluding the three latest deaths.

In November 2009, 32 journalists were among 58 people kidnapped and massacred in Maguindanao province, allegedly by members of a powerful clan. Of the 196 people charged in that case, 88 remain at large, and rights groups said families of the victims as well as witnesses remain under threat of retribution.

Four years after the Maguindanao massacre, no one has yet been convicted. Despite recent moves to speed it up, the trial is expected to drag on for years in the country’s overburdened court system.

Coloma earlier drew flak for downplaying media killings under the Aquino administration. He had said the 24 journalists reportedly killed under the present regime included “a driver of a network, employees of fly-by-night newspapers and a block-timer selling skin whiteners.”

Reacting to the killing of Dignos, however, Coloma later declared: “We are determined to end the culture of impunity that has brought about these media killings and we call on the citizens to support our efforts.”—With reports from Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas; Christian V. Esguerra in Manila; and AFP

4 suspects tagged in killing of broadcast journalist in Tandag City


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Michael Milo with sons Veni Vidi Vici and Mahatma. Photo from Milo’s Facebook Account

SAN FRANCISCO, PHILIPPINES, DECEMBER 16, 2013 (INQUIRER)  By Chris Panganiban - Police authorities in Tandag City have announced that they have identified four suspects in the December 6 killing of broadcaster Michael D. Milo.

However, a police news release coursed through the Philippine Information Agency did not identify the suspects “pending further action.”

Milo was driving his motorbike on his way home after hosting his daily radio program over dxFM when shot by three men past 4 p.m.

He was rushed to a hospital but was pronounced dead before doctors could treat him.

King dela Rosa, the station’s operations manager, said Milo had told him he had been receiving death threats on his cellular phone. Milo, however, did not say who he thought was threatening him.

But a friend of the broadcaster said a policeman — who was suspected to be having an affair with Milo’s wife — had been threatening the broadcast journalist.

Personal grudge is seen as the motive behind the killing of a radio station supervisor in Tandag City. By Chris V. Panganiban Inquirer Mindanao 5:57 pm | Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Judith Suarez, station manager of Sure FM and a close friend of slain broadcaster Michael Milo, said the victim told her that he and his wife had been having serious marital problems over her alleged affair with a policeman.

Milo, 34, supervisor of the Prime FM, was driving his motorcycle when was shot dead by three gunmen who were also on board a motorcycle on his way home at 4:30 p.m. last Friday.

He was rushed to the Adela Sierra Ty Provincial Hospital but was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians.

“He told me several times that he had received death threats through text messages and he believed these were coming from his wife’s lover,” Suarez said.

Suarez said the marital conflict had become so serious that Milo decided to carry a .45 caliber pistol.

But Suarez said the police have been eyeing some other personal grudge possibly from business deals since Milo was promoting and selling “Doc Alternatibo” herbal medicines through the radio station.

Suarez said Milo was a good-natured person but she heard that the victim would sometimes engage in a fight whenever he was drunk.

Milo used to be the bureau chief of Periodico SurSur, a local newspaper, and was active writing for the regional tabloid before he helped establish the radio station primarily aimed at promoting the products of “Doc Alternatibo.”

Milo was fond of writing exposés, said Rodrigo Catoto, a local newspaper publisher who once employed Milo as a provincial correspondent for Surigao del Sur.

“He was not loud; you can say he was nondescript and kept to himself almost every time,” said Catoto. “When I heard that he was killed, I was surprised to learn he worked for radio.” With reports from Danilo Adorador III, Inquirer Mindanao

Killing of journalists a nat’l catastrophe’  Inquirer Mindanao 12:24 am | Friday, December 13th, 2013

An international human rights watchdog has urged President Aquino to declare the deadly attacks on Filipino journalists a “national catastrophe,” saying that the situation “threatens civil liberties” in the country.

Two other groups—Reporters Without Borders and the European Union delegation to the Philippines—issued statements condemning the attacks and urging the government to take decisive action.

The killings of three journalists in Mindanao in the past two weeks are “no less than a war against the media” that needs immediate action, Carlos Conde, Philippine researcher of the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), said on Thursday.

Rogelio Butalid, a block-timer for 107.9 FM Radyo Natin, was shot dead by a lone killer in Tagum City in Davao del Norte province on Wednesday, shortly after he finished his radio program. The night before, unidentified men shot and wounded Jonavin “Jhey-R” Villalba, a radio reporter, in Iloilo City.

Radioman Michael Milo was gunned down in Tandag City in Surigao del Sur province on Dec. 6. A week before, another radioman, Joas Dignos, was killed in Valencia City in Bukidnon province.

So far, 27 journalists have been killed since 2010 when Aquino assumed power, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Gov’t response

The HRW was unhappy with the response the Aquino administration to the killings, Conde said in a dispatch. While government officials said they were committed to ending the attacks on journalists, they also downplayed them, he added.

“I understand the frustration on why there are no results [yet], but I can assure you that the government is working and investigating these matters,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a press briefing.

“These are important matters. We are very cognizant of the role of media in a democracy so we shouldn’t kill their role,” he added. “It’s really frustrating to see these media killings happening and certainly, we condemn these media killings.”

Describing the recent spate of media attacks as “alarming,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said in Manila that the National Bureau of Investigation was looking into the cases for eventual referral to the special investigation teams (SITs) of prosecutors and personnel of the NBI and the Philippine National Police.

Administrative Order No. 35, which was issued last year, created the SITs, as well as the special oversight teams (SOTs), to “address grave human rights violations, such as extrajudicial or extralegal killings, enforced disappearance and torture.”

De Lima said in text messages to reporters that the President was aware of the ongoing investigations.

Impunity

“In the face of all this violence against journalists, we urge the police to deploy whatever means are necessary to arrest those responsible and end the unacceptable impunity,” the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. “Only a firm response from the authorities will deter others from targeting news providers.”

The Philippines is ranked 140th among 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

A statement of the EU delegation recalled the 2012 resolution of the European Parliament, which urged the Philippine government to take further measures in order to end impunity for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture and bring those responsible to justice.

In Tagum, police authorities said Butalid, who was also a barangay (village) councilman, could have been killed because of his involvement in politics, his job as a radio commentator and personal grudges.

At the time of his death, Butalid hosted a radio program paid for by the National Electrification Administration faction of the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, which is embroiled in a violent dispute with a procooperative faction.

A special task group code-named “Tata Butalid” has been activated, according to Senior Supt. Samuel Gadingan, Davao del Norte police director.

P100,000 reward

Tagum Mayor Allan Rellon, an ally of the broadcaster, announced a P100,000 reward “from personal funds” for information leading to the resolution of the case.

In Milo’s case, police authorities in Tandag on Thursday filed a murder complaint in the city prosecutor’s office against eight people, including the estranged wife of the slain broadcaster.

Milo was killed by three gunmen while he was driving home on a motorcycle on Dec. 6.

Named respondents in the complaint were Milo’s widow, April, her siblings Arnel and Bernie Ann Fernandez, her alleged lover PO1 Hildo Patrimonio and four John Does.

As of Thursday, police investigators had yet to identify the gunmen behind the attack on Villalba as he was opening the gate of his house in Iloilo City’s Jaro District. The radio reporter was wounded in both feet and is recuperating at the hospital.

The empty shells and slugs recovered from the crime scene were sent to PNP national headquarters in Camp Crame for ballistic tests, according to Chief Insp. Rhea Santos, Jaro police chief.

Task Force Usig

In a statement, PNP Director General Alan Purisima said members of Task Force Usig, a special police unit under the PNP Directorate of Investigative and Detective Management, were monitoring all cases of violent attacks on journalists.

“At this early stage of investigations, there are no peculiar indication [that would show] a link that connect the three incidents [of killings],” Purisima said.

The country’s slow justice system has contributed to the persistence of impunity against media practitioners, two senators said on Thursday in Manila.

“The only way you can deter the killings is by making sure that justice is carried out in a timely manner. It takes years before a suspect is caught and brought to trial,” said Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public information and mass media.

“Criminals are emboldened because hardly any suspected media killers are actually sentenced and thrown in jail,” Poe said.

Vindictive politics

Sen. Loren Legarda, a longtime broadcast journalist before becoming a senator, also cited “vindictive politics” behind the killings.

“The personalistic and vindictive politics prevalent in some areas also breed this kind of culture which is totally unacceptable in a civilized and humane society,” she said.

“The slow judicial process and the lack of apprehension, prosecution of perpetrators of violence against media practitioners could be contributory to the continued violence,” Legarda said.

Conde of HRW’s Asia division urged the police to “look beyond the gunmen to the individuals ultimately responsible” for the killings.

“They should probe threats against journalists to prevent and deter future attacks. The government also needs to work with media companies, particularly broadcast networks, on strategies to better protect journalists,” he said.

Journalists in Tagum and Surigao del Sur said they were fearful because the masterminds had remained unpunished.

“We hope this will hasten the process for the filing of the necessary information in court, thus, leading to the eventual arrest of the perpetrators,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said in a statement on Thursday in Manila.

As in any other crime, Lacierda said authorities would have to “determine the motivations” behind the killing of journalists. “The responsibility of government is to investigate any crime whether it’s a media killing, whether it’s a murder by an ordinary person,” he said.

In the House of Representatives, the party-list Bayan Muna on Thursday filed a proposed resolution to condemn the continued killings of journalists.

House Resolution No. 526 authored by Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate, also urged the President “to carry out comprehensive and concrete actions to bring the perpetrators before the bar of justice.”

In a statement, Rep. Samuel Pagdilao Jr. urged Task Force Usig and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) “to immediately identify, charge and arrest the gunmen as well as the masterminds behind the killings in order to give justice to the families of the victims.”

“Protecting the media from violent attacks perpetrated by those they have reported for involvement in anomalies and illegal activities is a must, to bring to an end the culture of impunity relative to attack on the media,” said Pagdilao of the Anti-Criminality and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) and a former CIDG chief.—With reports from Chris Panganiban, Frinston Lim, Allan Nawal and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao; Christian V. Esguerra, Norman Bordadora, Christine O. Avendaño and Marlon Ramos in Manila; and Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas

Police file charges against slain journalist’s estranged wife, 7 others Inquirer Mindanao 9:30 pm | Thursday, December 12th, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur, Philippines—Police authorities in Tandag City on Thursday filed murder charges against eight people, including the estranged wife of slain broadcaster Michael D. Milo.

In the case filed before the city prosecutor’s office, the police named Milo’s estranged wife April; her siblings Arnel and Bernie Ann Fernandez; her alleged lover PO1 Hildo Patrimonio; and four John Does.

Milo was killed as he was driving home on a motorcycle on Dec. 6. Witnesses said three gunmen took turns in shooting him.

The filing of the murder charges against suspects in the Milo case was announced almost at the same time that police authorities in Tagum City, where broadcaster Rogelio Butalid was killed on Wednesday, also revealed that they have uncovered possible leads that could lead to the resolution of the case.

Senior Supt. Samuel Gadingan, Davao del Norte police director, said investigators had narrowed down the leads to politics, job as commentator and personal grudges.

At the time of his death, Butalid was commentator for the National Electrification Administration faction of the Davao del Norte Electric Coop., which is often locked into violent confrontation with a pro-cooperative Daneco faction.

Gadingan said being a village official, Butalid might have feuded with fellow politicians.

“A special investigative task group codenamed “Tata Butalid” has been activated to handle the investigation, according to Gadingan.

Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon, an ally of the slain broadcaster, announced a reward kitty of P100,000 “from personal funds” to speed up the resolution of the Butalid murder case.

“I consider this a high-profile incident not only because Kagawad Tata was a journalist, but also because he’s a colleague in public service. I’m extending whatever assistance to help in the investigation and resolution of this case,” Rellon said.

The Asia division of the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged President Aquino to declare as a “national catastrophe” the attacks on journalists as it “threatens civil liberties” in the country.

Carlos Conde, HRW Philippine researcher, described the deadly attacks on journalists in the Philippines, as “no less than a war against the media” requiring immediate action.

“In just the past two weeks, the body count in this war has surged: three dead journalists and one wounded in attacks perpetrated by unidentified gunmen,” Conde said in an HRW dispatch.

Conde said HRW was unhappy over the response the Aquino government has taken because while its officials have pledged their commitment to ending attacks on journalists, they have also sought to downplay them.

“Such official inaction is unacceptable,” he said.

Conde also urged the police to “look beyond the gunmen to the individuals ultimately responsible” for the killings.

“They should probe threats against journalists to prevent and deter future attacks. The government also needs to work with media companies, particularly broadcast networks, on strategies to better protect journalists,” he said.

Journalists in both Tagum City and in Surigao del Sur said they have become fearful because those behind the killings have managed to remain scot-free.

In separate statements, they said this would encourage people targeting other media personalities to order their assassinations as attacks against journalists remain unsolved. (Chris Panganiban, Frinston Lim, Allan Nawal and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao)


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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