NUJP condemns slay try on Surigao broadcaster; lauds conviction of police officer for murder of Mati radioman

July 1, 2016

NUJP condemns slay try on Surigao broadcaster; lauds conviction of police officer for murder of Mati radioman

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the assassination attempt on our Surigao City colleague Saturnino “Jan” Estanio of Radio Mindanao Network-dxRS, which left him, his 12-year old son, and a neighbor slightly wounded.

The slay try was carried out around 5pm Thursday, June 30, in the now all too familiar pattern of “riding in tandem” gunmen. In this recent attack on Estanio, the gunmen are in their 20s and were bold enough not to wear anything to hide their faces. RMN-dxRS program director Jocelyn Ferol said Estanio acknowledged the attack could have stemmed from a personal grudge against him but also noted it was likely to be work-related since he had recently been commenting against illegal drugs and gambling, and alleged malfeasance in some government agencies over his radio program.

Estanio maintains a nightly, hard-hitting public affairs program with dxRS. Interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Estanio said he tended to believe that the attempt on his life was job-related–specifically in the wake of his strong commentary against illegal gambling.

Estanio recalled that three days before the attack, an unnamed person warned him to go easy on illegal game machines proliferating in Surigao city, a racket that is estimated to earn as much as P200,000 per week. These operations reportedly enjoy the protection of police officials. “I did not mind it thinking it wasn’t that serious,” Estanio said of the threat.

The attack on Estanio follows the harassment against Digos City (Davao del Sur) broadcaster Marland Malnegro of Gold-FM last June 24. Malnegro’s house was shot at past 1am, shattering its windows. At least four empty shells were found outside Malnegro’s house while four deformed slugs were found inside. According to several colleagues in Davao del Sur, Malnegro has been “pouring his tirade” against illegal gambling and drugs in the province the past months, to the extent of questioning the performance of police officials.

In the past, a number of Davao del Sur journalists have been threatened due to their reporting about the same issues, in the process exposing the complicity of some police officials in these illicit activities. In similar cases in other places, the courage of our colleagues to expose these shenanigans cost them their lives.

Amid the persistence of this worrying trend, we celebrate a recent victory in our continued effort to combat impunity: on June 27, Davao City’s Regional Trial Court Branch 10 sentenced Dennis Lumikid, a police officer, with a maximum of 40 years imprisonment, for the murder of Mati City broadcaster Desiderio Camangyan on June 4, 2010.

Camangyan, anchor of a blocktime program with Sunrise FM, was hosting a singing contest in a village in Manay, Davao Oriental when shot and killed. According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the conviction of Lumikid brings to 16 the number of cases of journalist killings where a gunman or gunmen were meted out justice.

But CMFR, along with other media groups, have been lamenting that no mastermind has ever faced trial, except in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre. We demand that the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) immediately look into the likely involvement of police officers in the recent attacks against journalists in Surigao and Digos, especially in the spirit of Director General Ronald dela Rosa’s vow that his leadership will be “relentless in internal cleansing efforts.”

Further, we hope that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte constitute soonest the special mechanism conceived by his transition people for the speedy disposition of cases of media killings and attacks in order to boost the drive against impunity in the country.

Ryan Rosuaro, NUJP Chair (09276522343)