Press Release
August 11, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today condemned the killing of two broadcasters of the Radio Mindanao Network over a span of four days last week and called on law enforcement authorities to solve the murder cases and render justice to the victims and their families.

Pimentel said the slaying of Dennis Cuesta of RMN Radyo Agong in General Santos City on August 5 and of Martin Roxas of RMN-DyVR in Roxas City on August 8 once more illustrates the hazards to which broadcasters who are faithfully discharging their tasks are exposed and the breakdown of law and order in the country.

He said Cuesta and Roxas, as in several cases of murdered journalists in the past, were apparently killed by mercenary assassins upon order of individuals who were hurt but could not tolerate their reporting and commentaries of scandals and venalities in their communities.

"We share the grief and outrage of the families, media colleagues and friends of broadcast journalists Cuesta and Roxas over their tragic fate, which befell them because they stayed true to their professional oath to report the news and articulate their views as factually and objectively as possible regardless of who might get hurt," the senator from Mindanao said.

Cuesta, 38, was ambushed by an unidentified gunman on Aug. 5. Six days later, he died from bullet wounds in his head and body while undergoing treatment in a hospital.

Roxas, a radio anchorman, was gunned down by an assassin on a motorcycle in Roxas City. The triggerman, identified as Joenel Lastimoso, and his companion, Christian Tan, driver of the motorcycle, were arrested by the police in the nearby town of Ivisan, Capiz, less than an hour after the ambuscade.

Since 1986, up to 93 journalists have been killed seven of them were broadcasters from RMN.

Aside from Cuesta and Roxas slain RMN broadcasters included Nelson Catipay of RMN-DXMY in Cotabato City (April 16, 1998), Olimpio Jalapit of RMN-DXPR in Pagadian City (November 17, 2000) Rolando Ureta of RMN-DYKR in Kalibo, Aklan (January 3, 2001), Rolando Morales of RMN-DWMD South Cotabato (July 3, 2005) and Fernando Batul of RMN in Puerto Princesa City (May 22, 2006).

Pimentel said the unending incidents of murder of journalists indicates the ineffectiveness of the law enforcement and criminal justice system in solving these criminal cases and in breaking up the syndicates of hired killers.

He reminded the Philippine National Police of its duty to extend protection to journalists who are being subjected to harassment or facing death threats and who come to them for help.

Citing the passage by the Senate of his bill granting the right of reply to people unjustly maligned by newspapers or broadcast networks, Pimentel expressed the hope that once it is enacted into law, this will help in amicably resolving the complaints of aggrieved newspaper readers, radio listeners and television viewers and in minimizing, if not eliminating the incidence of murders of practicing journalists.

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