As the Arroyo administration neared the end of its term this June 30, two other broadcasters were killed in separate incidents in the regions of Northern Luzon (Region I) and Southern Mindanao (Region XI). If found to be work-related, these will raise the number of journalists/media practitioners killed in the line of duty during President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s watch rise to 78, more than twice the combined number of journalists killed in the terms of the three previous Philippine Presidents.
The Philippine National Police in both regions announced the formation of task forces to investigate the killing of radio broadcasters Desidario “Jessie” Camangyan in Manay town, Davao Oriental (June 14) and Jovelito Agustin in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte (June 15).
Camangyan, a blocktimer at Sunrise FM-Mati City, was killed at around 10 p.m. (local time) while hosting a singing competition in Old Macopa village, Manay town. Manay is a town in Davao Oriental, approximately 1,021 kilometers south of Manila.
In a 15 June 2010 interview, Philippine National Police Southern Mindanao spokesman Senior Superintendent Querubin Manalang said initial police investigation showed that Camangyan had just taken his seat after introducing a contestant when the gunman came from behind him and shot him in the head.
Manalang said the suspect came and fled through the corn field/plantation behind the makeshift stage.
Sunrise FM station manager Bobong Alcantara said Camangyan and his two co-hosts in “Hotline Patrol” had been invited by the village captain of Old Macopa to host the competition. But only Camangyan came. Camangyan was with his wife and his six-year-old son when he was shot.
Senior Superintendent Manalang, in a phone interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility last June 15, said Police Task Force Camangyan is still looking into the possible motives in the killing of the broadcaster.
But members of the local media community say they believe the killing was work-related. Alcantara said the killing could be due to Camangyan and his partners’ commentaries on illegal logging activities in the “east coast” of Davao Oriental. He said they have been receiving threats. The threesome had been discussing the problems of illegal logging in the province for almost four weeks now, Alcantara said.
Hotline Patrol is a blocktime program hosted by Camangyan, and his colleagues Frank Gupit and Nonoy Bacalzo.
In the northern part of Luzon, police have yet to complete their investigation into the killing of dzJC Aksyon Radyo’s (Action Radio) anchor Jovelito Agustin. Agustin died at a local hospital a few hours after two unidentified men on a motorcycle shot him four times in Laoag City, the capital of Ilocos Norte.
Nick Malasig of dzJC said Agustin was driving home from the radio station on a motorcycle when the suspects intercepted and attacked him. Agustin had come from his daily public affairs show which usually dealt with problems in the province as well as election issues like the disqualification of some candidates. Ilocos Norte is a province approximately 402 kilometers north of Luzon.
The online news organization GMA News TV reported that, according to Laoag City Police Chief Senior Superintendent Sterling Blanco, the nephew of Agustin who was riding home with him “could not give other details on the suspects.”
Malasig told CMFR in a 16 June 2010 interview that Agustin said he had received threats prior to the killing. In fact, some unidentified men shot at Agustin’s house in Bacarra town during the campaign period for national and local elections last May. No one was hurt. Agustin had suspected a local politician as the one behind the shooting incident in May 2010.
Local and international media organizations have called for speedy investigations into the killings. Several groups also called on incoming Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to decisively act on the numerous killings and attacks against journalists, media practitioners and human rights activists.
CMFR (http://cmfr.com.ph/) is a SEAPA founding member based in Manila, the Philippines, working to promote ethical journalism and to protect press freedom.