Originally published on the CMFR website on 18 May 2018.
CMFR/PHILIPPINES — A local radio broadcaster and volunteer reporter was killed in a shooting incident in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur on 13 March 2017. Zamboanga del Sur is 1167 kilometers south of Manila.
Carlos Matas, the victim, hosted Zambo News Patrol in dxCA Bell FM and dxBZ Radyo Bagting. The police also described him as a “provincial coordinator for Cassava Farmers Association in Zamboanga del Sur.” Police Officer 2 Welito Nuena told CMFR that Matas was meeting a colleague in relation to his work as coordinator when he was killed.
The meeting was in the house of a certain Jonathan Magdadaro. According to Nuena, the killing involved more than the usual two men on a motorcycle. Around seven gunmen on board several motorcycles parked in front of Magdadaro’s house at around 3:30 p.m. When Matas went out of the house to greet them, the men simultaneously shot him dead.
The suspects fled toward the direction of Barangay Dipaya in the same town where they engaged the police in a six-hour standoff. Three suspects were killed in action, one was wounded.
Four days prior he was killed, Matas reported to authorities that his group was allegedly ambushed by motorcycle-riding men along Barangay Langapod in Lambangan. In a separate blotter report, the group of men in motorcycles had also reported to the police that they were ambushed by Mata’s group. Both parties filed appropriate charges against each other in court.
Nuena told CMFR, that while confined for treatment in the Zamboanga del Sur Medical Center one of the suspects, Arnaiz Alam Kabaro, told police that his group was seeking revenge for the May 8 ambush involving his group and Matas’.
The police believe that Matas case is not related to his work as a reporter. CMFR tried but could not reach dxCA FM for comment.
As of press time, 158 journalists were killed in the line of duty since 1986. Of these cases, only 17 had been partly resolved with the conviction of the gunmen while the masterminds have gone free. In the case of Bombo Radyo-Kalibo broadcaster Herson Hinolan who was killed on Nov. 13, 2004, the murder case filed against convicted mastermind former Mayor Alfredo Arsenio of Lezo town in Aklan province, was downgraded to homicide in 2016.