Friday, September 24, 2021

Wenceslao: Another killing

Candid Thoughts

The shooting to death of blocktime broadcaster Rey Cortes reminds me again of the culture of violence that some of us have embraced for a long time now. One killing that has been etched in my memory is but a composite of sounds but sparks an imagination of a violent scene I could not drive away from mind. The broadcaster was shot in the announcer’s booth of a radio station in another province when Ferdinand Marcos Sr. ruled the country.

The gunman reportedly went inside the radio station and shot the broadcaster point blank inside the announcer’s booth while he was “on board.” This was in a time when the internet and cable TV were not yet invented and radio stations were purely audio, not like today when broadcasting is “radyo na, TV pa.” So what investigators got were mostly audio also.

The shooting was recorded on air. After the first burst of shots came momentary silence. Then the moans of a dying man could be heard, which was more like the noise made by a pig when slaughtered (“baboy nga giihaw”). Then the final silence. I could only imagine the broadcaster staring at the barrel of the gun then bending on the table below the microphone, struggling for life as blood oozed from the bullet wounds on his head.

Cortes was reportedly shot outside of the building where the radio station is located in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City. If I remember it right, Cortes was also shot at the port area years ago but survived. I once listened to his radio program and the term “hard-hitting” is a correct description. I used to handle a commentary program when I was with radio station dyLA but my commentaries were soft by comparison.

Cortes was a blocktimer, meaning that he paid for the hours he was allowed to broadcast in the radio station. Whatever he earned from the program was his. Blocktimers can do what they want in their program limited only by the country’s libel laws. This is where broadcasters regularly employed by radio station owners differ. Regularly employed broadcasters strictly follow journalism’s ethical standards notably on decency, fairness, etc. and the broadcasting rules laid down by radio station owners.

We don’t know who shot Cortes and why. It would be wrong to make conclusions while police investigators are still looking into the incident. If we have suspicions, it would be good to keep these to ourselves. I am saddened because his wife is also a broadcaster whom I got acquainted with when I was still a journalism neophyte.

But back to the culture of violence. Why should a man or a broadcaster be killed? In the early years of the Duterte administration, killing was the norm. Thank God those behind them have seen the light. The number of extrajudicial killings has gone down considerably. There was a time during the heightened war against illegal drugs when the count was worrisome. It even involved known personalities. Even government officials got killed. We don’t want to see a repeat of that ever again.


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