Newspaper publisher shot dead in Tagum City

DAVAO CITY -- Police have launched a massive manhunt operation against the killers of a newspaper publisher who was shot dead in Tagum City Tuesday night.

Police identified the victim as Gregorio "Loloy" T. Ybañez, publisher of Kabuhayan News Services and president of the Davao del Norte Press and Radio-TV Club (DNPRC), who is also a member of the board of directors of Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco).

The National Union of Journalists (NJUP)-Davao Chapter immediately issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, condemning the killing of Ybañez.

"If it was a killing motivated by his being a member of the media, then this death deserves condemnation. If it was a death brought by his being a broadcaster, then it is another smudge on the record of the Aquino administration, a proof of how the administration, of how the government nurtures culture of violence and phenomenon of impunity," NUJP-Davao chair Jefry Tupas said.

The victim had just arrived home from a meeting and was about to enter his house around 10 p.m. when shot by the gunmen on board a vehicle parked in front of the victim's residence.

The killers immediately escaped to an unknown direction after the shooting.

"Naka-park na daw yung sasakyan sa harap ng bahay at hinintay na dumating siya. Pagkadating niya (victim), hindi na bumaba yung suspect sa sasakyan at binaba nalang yung window at binaril siya," Boy Conejos, vice president of DNPRC, said.

Other than his work as a radio broadcaster, authorities are also looking into possibility that the killing has something to do with Ybañez job as a member of Daneco board.

Cornejos said Ybanez' publication is not hard-hitting and local journalists suspect the case could be linked to troubles within Daneco.

"Tinitingnan natin ang angulo na related ito sa kanyang work as member of the board of directors of Daneco, especially alam natin na may away-away dito," Senior Superintendent Samuel Gadingan, police director of the Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office (DNPPO), told Sun.Star in an interview.

He said they are still conducting further investigation to identify and arrest the killers.

"Ini-imbestigahan na namin ang insidente. Negative pa sa ngayon ang mga identities ng mga killers, but with our investigation mare-reveal na natin ito soon," Gadingan said.

The victim succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds in the different parts of his body.

The victim died before reaching a hospital.

The body of the victim was brought to St. Peter's in Tagum City for autopsy.

After the autopsy, the remains of the victim will be transferred back to his home.

Radio broadcaster Rogelio Butalid was murdered in Tagum City in December 11, 2013. Like Ybanez, Butalid also worked for Daneco.

Ybanez would be the 28th Filipino journalist killed since 2010 if his death is related to his media work, the NUJP said. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex/AP)

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