NBI to look into latest media slays

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday said that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is already looking into the spate of media killings in the country.

"These recent media killings are initially being investigated by the NBI for eventual referral to Special Investigation Teams (SITs) created under AO (Administrative Order) 35," she said in a text message.

The Palace order created an inter-agency committee to probe human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances.

In a span of two weeks, three journalists were gunned down in separate occasions in Mindanao while another one survived an attack in Iloilo.

The slain journalists were identified as Rogelio Butalid of Tagum City (December 11); Michael Milo of Tandag, Surigao del Sur (December 7; and Joash Dignos of Valencia City (November 29).

Jonavin Villalba, a radio reporter, was wounded in a separate gun attack in Iloilo City last December 10. The suspects remain at large.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) have condemned the crimes committed against their colleagues and assured that they will work hand in hand with the authorities for the resolution of the cases.

NUJP secretary general Rupert Mangilit said that the case of Dignos, Milo and Butalid were still under investigation.

In Dignos' case, one suspect was already captured while the other one has been identified by the investigators through the artist's sketch. Milo's case was allegedly due to personal issues.

"Nakatanggap ng death threats sila pero si Dignos six months before he died hinagisan ng bomba 'yung station na pinagtatrabahuhan niya," Mangilit said.

Nineteen cases of work-related media killings have been logged under the current Aquino administration and 158 after the restoration of democracy in 1986, the groups said.

"It is alarming since for this year pito na ang naitatalang pinatay na media people and in average two times na may pinapatay in one or two weeks," Mangilit said.

Mangilit said they will pressure the police and other agencies concerned to bring the suspects to justice. (Virgil Lopez/Third Anne Peralta/Sunnex)

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