60TH SINCE 2001 Radioman shot dead in front of daughter

By Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:57:00 11/18/2008

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY— They trailed him from home to school. As he got off his motorcycle to drop his 7-year-old daughter at the school gate, one of the men shot him in the jaw in front of the girl, police said.

An avowed opponent of illegal loggers, radio commentator Aristeo Padrigao Monday became the 60th journalist to be killed in the Philippines since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office in 2001.

He was also the sixth member of the local media to die violently this year.

The assassins, two men riding tandem also on a motorcycle, escaped.

Padrigao, a block-time commentator and radio show host of dxRS Radyo Natin, as well as a columnist in the Mindanao Monitor Today, was shot and killed at 7:15 a.m. in Gingoog City.

Uriel Quilingging, a friend of Padrigao, said the killing might have been due to the radio commentator’s exposés about illegal logging activities.

“He was quite vocal about illegal logging operations in Gingoog. Most of the people he was criticizing were big politicians,” Quilingging said.

Remain vigilant

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) urged the media to remain vigilant against efforts to suppress them and said: “If anything, Padrigao’s murder highlights the government’s inability to stop the media killings and put those responsible behind bars.”

Initial police investigation showed that Padrigao, 55, was killed by a 9mm bullet fired into his right jaw.

Based on eyewitness accounts, two motorcycle-riding men wearing black jackets and helmets tailed Padrigao from his home to the school.

Just as Padrigao stopped at the school’s front gate to drop off his daughter, one of the men pointed a gun at Padrigao’s head and fired.

Supt. Leonroy Ga, Gingoog police chief, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone his men were investigating reports that Padrigao had received death threats days before he was killed.

“We will talk to his wife and verify the information that they received death threats prior to the incident,” Ga said.

He said investigators had no other leads so far except that the killing was related to Padrigao’s work.

Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno condemned the killing and ordered the police to “leave no stone unturned.”

“I condemn the senseless killing in the strongest terms. I call on the police, the National Bureau of Investigation and other related agencies to immediately apprehend the perpetrators and bring them and their cohorts to the bar of justice,” Moreno said.

The NUJP said: “We call on our colleagues not to waver, to continue banding together and remain vigilant against all attempts to suppress us and the independent Philippine media.”

Painful struggle

It added: “The struggle for genuine press freedom in our country has been a long and painful one and will continue to be a long and painful one. But we cannot waver. We must see this struggle through to the end and the inevitable victory that awaits us and our people.”

According to the Media Safety Office of the International Federation of Journalists-NUJP, Padrigao was the 61st journalist to be killed in the Philippines since 2001. A separate Inquirer tally put the number at 60.

In Iloilo City, a local journalist has filed a complaint of grave threats against a scion of the Lopez clan before the prosecutor’s office.

Francis Allan Angelo, executive editor of The Daily Guardian community paper, alleged that Alberto Lopez III threatened him with bodily harm on Oct. 31 while they were at the Flow Bar and Restaurant in Smallville Business and Leisure Complex.

Angelo alleged in his complaint that Lopez, son of former Congressman Albertito Lopez and former Gov. Emily Relucio-Lopez, approached him while he and his companions were having drinks and told him in Tagalog: “Don’t stare at me. I don’t know you. I will kill you.”

Angelo said he was horrified, especially when he saw Lopez’s bodyguards approaching.

Lawyer Joseph Anthony Lutero, one of Angelo’s companions, alleged in his affidavit that he heard Lopez make the threats against Angelo, and that Lopez threatened him, too.

Lopez’s counsel, Rene Sarabia, said he had to consult with his client before he could issue any statement.

Sarabia said he had tried to discuss the matter with Angelo. With the filing of the complaint, Sarabia said he might as well “defend (Lopez in court) and let the truth come out.” With a report from David Israel Sinay, Inquirer Visayas

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