12 February 2004
Source: Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
A RADIO broadcaster was murdered in Legazpi City, Albay Province, approximately 556 kilometers south of Manila on Wednesday (11 January). He was the 44th journalist killed in the Philippines since 1986, when the Marcos dictatorship ended and democracy was restored.
Ruel Endrinal was shot by two unidentified men at around 6:20 a.m., according to Jess Magayanes, a colleague from radio station DZRC-AM. Endrinal was a blocktimer in the station and had a regular morning program from 6:30 to 7:00.
Endrinal is the third broadcaster killed in the Bicol Region since last year. On April 28, two unidentified men killed John Belen Villanueva, Jr. of radio station DZGB in Legazpi City. Last December 2, Nelson Nadura of DYME in Masbate was also shot by two unidentified men.
In a telephone interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), Magayanes said that Endrinal was on his way to the station when the suspects attacked him.
Aniceto Dimatera, a friend of the victim, added that Endrinal was gunned down just 10 to 15 meters away from his residence in Barangay Oro Site. Endrinal suffered gunshots in the head, left arm and stomach.
Neither Magayanes nor Dimatera could say what the motive for the killing was, but local police are looking into the possibility that Endrinal could have been targeted because of his commentaries in his program “MBA sa DZRC” (MBA in DZRC).
Magayanes said Endrinal was critical of politicians in the area including Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara. They added that Endrinal had been receiving death threats.
Dimatera said the police have two witnesses who said they can identify the gunmen. According to these witnesses, they had seen the gunmen in the area for three consecutive days. They did not suspect anything because they thought the two men were only frequenting a small eatery where they always ate.
Magayanes said Philippine National Police Chief Hermogenes Ebdane has already directed Legazpi City Police Chief Eriberto Olitoquit to investigate the case.
Forty-four (44) journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1986. Last year was the worst year yet for Philippine media since after the martial law period. Seven journalists were killed in 2003.
They were Villanueva (April 28), Apolinario “Polly” Pobeda of Lucena City, Quezon (May 17), Bonifacio Gregorio of Tarlac City (July 8), Noel Villarante of Sta. Cruz, Laguna (August 19), Rico Ramirez of San Francisco town in Agusan del Sur (August 20), Juan “Jun” Pala, Jr. (September 6) and Nadura (December 2).
Last November 7, 2003 President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced that the government is offering a P1 million (approximately US$18,200) reward for the capture of the killers of journalists over the last five years (from 1998 to 2003). So far there have been no takers.