A mayor may face investigations for the killing of a broadcaster and the wounding of his companion in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur Tuesday night.
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said slain broadcaster Christopher Lozada has formally notified them of death threats he received from Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro before his death.
According to PTFoMs, Lozada informed them the mayor texted him “to leave Bislig if you do not want to die” and that “he would step down with Lozada who will go to the cemetery since his days are numbered.”
“As a matter of policy, PTFoMS presumes Lozada’s death as a media killing and falls under its mandate in relation to Administrative Order No. 1 (AO1) of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to protect the life, liberty, and security of media workers,” its statement on the killing yesterday said.
PTFoMS issued a red-flag letter warning Navarro but Lozada was killed on the night the letter was sent to the mayor.
Aside from informing the PTFoMS his life was being threatened by the mayor, Lozada also repeatedly alleged on his Facebook account Navarro’s threats against him.
PTFoMS’s red flag letter to Navarro ordered the local executive to “desist from threatening Christopher Lozada” adding, “in case any untoward incident happens to him, we will include you (the mayor) as possible perpetrator of the same.”
Lozada, host of Prime Broadcasting Network DXBF’s radio program “Kuskos-Batikos,” was shot together with his companion Honey Faith Tuyco Indog on their way home on board their Toyota Vios with Plate No. LGY 124 at Purok 5, Barangay Coleto, Bislig City where he resided.
Lozada led the filing of a complaint against Navarro and 16 other city hall officials with the Office of the Ombudsman which subsequently found the mayor guilty of graft and corruption and ordered his dismissal.
Lozada visited the regional Department of Interior and Local Government office Monday to follow up on the Ombudsman’s order.
“We learned he went to the DILG the day before he was killed to press the agency to immediately serve the dismissal order, which sources say triggered the ambush. He even posted on social media photos of the said visit to DILG,” PTFoMS said.
Navarro claimed he is innocent about Lozada’s killing.
Mayor claims innocence
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in Cagayan de Oro City, Navarro maintained his innocence and even condemned Lozada’s killing.
“I can hold my head up high and say I am innocent and my conscience is clear,” Navarro said Wednesday.
Navarro was in Cagayan de Oro Tuesday to attend the three-day 14th National Organic Agriculture Congress (NOAC) of the League of Organic Agriculture of Municipalities and Cities of the Philippines where he is executive vice president.
“He is like a son to me,” Navarro said of Lozada, whom he claimed was “very close” to him as they were related.
In fact, he told PNA, his family was supportive of Lozada politically.
In a Facebook post, Lozada said he had nothing personal against the mayor, also saying they were in fact related.
On Oct. 14, a few days before he was killed, however, Lozada posted on his Facebook account a graphic containing an alleged order by Navarro to have him killed for P85,000 which resulted in a heated exchange of comments between them.
The following day, Oct. 15, Lozada posted a screenshot of a text message from an unknown source saying he only had 95 days to live.
Navarro has filed three counts of libel case against Lozada in 2012 in relation to the work-related and personal criticisms Lozada hurled against him on-air.
The cases are still being tried in court.
“I am open to any investigation and I will face in court anybody who’s interested to file (cases against me),” Navarro told PNA, adding he would “look into it (Lozada’s killing)” and order “a fair and proper investigation of the case be extended to the family so the truth will come out.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Lozada’s killing, if work-related, may be the fifth case of media killing under the Rodrigo Duterte government and the 178th case of media killing since 1986.
In a statement Thursday, the NUJP said Lozada’s murder shows how impunity has become so entrenched in the Philippines.
“That Lozada’s killers got him indicates that they were not the least bit worried about being caught,” the NUJP said.
“As experience has taught us, most often the reason for this is that the killers are under the protective mantle of someone powerful or influential enough who is also most likely is the mastermind,” the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)