Unidentified men set fire to a Catholic Church-owned radio station
in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, on 26 October 2011. Occidental
Mindoro is approximately 156 kilometers from Manila.
According to the radio station’s Helen de Guzman, the caretaker of
the church-owned Catholic Media Network dzVT noticed the fire
around 1 a.m. (local time). The radio’s transmitters, computers,
cables and other equipment were lost in the fire, de Guzman added.
A report by another church-owned station, Radyo Veritas (Truth
Radio), quoted dzVT program manager Daisy Leano as saying that “the
damage to the station’s property, including the transmitter and
generator, cost more or less 10 million pesos (approx.
US$231,370).” The radio station’s caretaker was hurt while trying
to put out the fire, de Guzman said.
News reports quoted MIMAROPA (Mindoro Occidental and Oriental,
Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan – Region 4B) regional police head
Chief Supt. Artemio Hicban as saying that a gas canister was found
around the radio station’s premises. “An arson investigator found a
container of gas, which we suspect was used to set the fire,” said
Meanwhile, Hicban was also quoted in the GMANews Online report as
saying that unidentified men also tried to burn down a seminary in
San Jose a few days before.
Police have yet to identify the suspects and motives behind the
attack. However, Radyo Veritas reported that the police had pointed
to the New People’s Army (NPA) as the group behind the attack on
the Church-owned radio.
But de Guzman said the radio station never claimed that the NPA was
behind the attacks. Leano, quoted in the Radyo Veritas report, also
denied saying this. “We refuse to give out speculations on who and
what is the motive behind the burning of our radio station since we
still have no evidence,” Leano told Radyo Veritas.
Alex del Valle, a radio anchor and reporter in San Jose, told the
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility that the possible
motive behind the attack on dzVT is its commentaries against a
local politician. “They are one of those who criticized a local
politician here,” del Valle said.
This was the second attack on dzVT this month. De Guzman told CMFR
that unidentified persons also tried to burn down the station on 20
October 2011. The station’s generator set and a room where
important documents were kept were damaged in the first attack. De
Guzman also told CMFR that radio staff had noticed unidentified men
casing the radio station since September.
CMFR (http://www.cmfr-phil.org) is a SEAPA founding member
based in Manila, the Philippines, working to promote ethical
journalism and to protect press freedom.