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DOJ dismisses complaint vs Catanduanes gov over 1st media killing under Duterte

By Lottie Salarda

“We were not surprised anymore,” Catanduanes journalist Marlon Suplig said after learning that the Department of Justice in Manila dismissed the murder complaint against Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua and others over the murder of Catanduanes Now Publisher Larry Que in 2016.

What surprised them was the failure of the DOJ to notify them almost a year after its resolution, Suplig said.

Contrary to the Rules on Criminal Procedure requiring only probable cause for a case to be filed, Assistant State Prosecutor Alejandro Daguiso in a resolution dated October 30, 2017, said there is insufficiency of evidence presented by the complainants and it will be unfair to hold the respondents for trial.

Que was killed after writing a column alleging the negligence of the local officials over the discovery of a major shabu laboratory in the province.

He was the first vitim of media killing under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

The victim was shot by a motorcycle men-riding in tandem at around 9:30 in the morning near his workplace in Virac, Catanduanes.

On May 2, 2017, Edralyn Pangilinan, Que’s common-law wife filed a murder case against Cua, police officer Vincent Tacorda, Cua’s right-hand Prince Lim Subion and other “John Does”.

Gov. Cua (right, in gray shirt) announces his candidacy for governorship in the 2019 local elections. (Photo by Radyo Natin-Virac, used with permission)

After his arrest last year, Tacorda admitted he was instructed to kill Que under the guise of “Operation Tokhang” by Cua through his right-hand man Subion.

Que received death threats from Lim Subion prior to the incident.

According to Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Executive Director Joel Egco, Tacorda faced a robbery and extortion charges because he allegedly asked the family for 10 million pesos in exchange for evidence of Que’s death.

The extortion case filed against Tacorda was likewise dismissed. He denied all his extrajudicial confessions in his affidavit.

The complainants said they did not receive a copy of the resolution.

Suplig said they did not know that their complaint was already dismissed almost a year ago as they were not given copies.

It was Cua’s camp who announced the dismissal nearly two months before the filing of certificates of candidacies for the 2019 local and national polls.

The incumbent governor is planning to run for the same post next year. #

Broadcaster killed in Albay; 12th under Duterte gov’t

A broadcaster in the Bicol Region was killed early Friday morning on his way to the radio station, the 12th victim of media killing under the two-year old Rodrigo Duterte government.

Joey Llana, 38, a block-timer of radio station dwZR in Legazpi City, Albay was driving  when fired upon by unidentified gunmen at Brgy. Penafrancia, Daraga town at around 4:45 am in the morning.

Llana hosted the radio program “Metro Banat”, which aired from 5:30 to 7 a.m.

Reports said Llana was shot 14 times with .45 caliber and 9mm pistols.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said 14 emptied bullet casings were recovered on the scene by police authorities.

Authorities have yet to determine the motive for Llana’s murder although a sibling of the victim said he had received death threats days before the killing, NUJP said.

Llana’s death is the third media killing in the region, making it currently the most dangerous area for journalists, along with Caraga, which also has three broadcasters killed in the past two years.

Chief Inspector Eder Collantes of the Legazpi City Philippine National Police has confirmed the incident to the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, saying they are coordinating with the Police Regional Office 5 to expedite the investigation. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups denounce yet another media killing, 11th under Duterte

Media groups denounced the murder of yet another journalist Thursday afternoon, the 11th victim of media killing under Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), the NUJP Davao Chapter, and the Davao del Norte Press and Radio-TV Club (DNPRC) denounced the killing of Dennis Denora, publisher of the community newspaper Trends and Times and correspondent of Sun Star Davao in Panabo City, Davao del Norte.

“Denora is the 11th journalist killed in the less than two years since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office and the 184th since 1986,” the NUJP said.

The victim was shot by an unidentified gunman who fled on foot after the shooting, Panabo City Police reported.

Denora, 67, was seated in front of a sedan car that was cruising along the city’s national highway when shot.

He was killed on the spot.

The NUJP said that while there is still no official word on the possible motive for his murder, it was likely related to his work as a journalist.

“Denora’s colleagues in the province acknowledge that he was ‘fearless’ in his commentaries in broadcast and print,” the group added.

The NUJP Davao Chapter said Denora’s death is a clear assault to press freedom, and amplifies the existing climate of fear among journalists who are working in their local communities.

“His death underscores the worsening state of media killings in the country. With this, we want the government to take concrete actions to stop these senseless killings by speedily resolving these cases and bring people who attack journalists [to justice],” NUJP Davao said.

In a separate statement, the DNPRC said Denora, also an officer and member of the Davao Region Multi-Media group (DRMMG), was known for his fearless commentaries both in print and on radio.

“[Denora’s] death awakens the anger and pains of journalists who do their job and yet are being judged by the pistol,” the group said.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFOMS) for its part said its secretariat has already directed the Philippine National Police Task Force Usig to conduct a “deep investigation” on Denora’s killing.

Task Force Usig is a special police unit created to investigate media killings.

A Special Investigation Task Group will be formed to lead the local probe, PTFOMS said.

“Like in previous cases, whether related to work or not, it is our official policy to initially treat any violent incident involving media workers as ‘work related,’” PTFOMS executive director Joel Egco said.

“We will leave no stone unturned to serve the ends of justice. Make no mistake about it,” Egco said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)