IN THE wake of the slay attempt on a radioman in Surigao City hours after President Rodrigo Duterte took his oath as the 16th President, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the attempt on the life of Saturnino ‘Jan’ Estanio of Radio Mindanao Network-dxRS, which left him, his 12-year-old son, and a neighbour slightly wounded.
The shooting was carried out around 5 p.m. on June 30, in the now all too familiar pattern of “riding in tandem” gunmen. In this recent attack on Estanio, the gunmen are in their 20s and were bold enough not to wear anything to hide their faces.
Estanio maintains a nightly, hard-hitting public affairs program with dxRS.
In a statement the NUJP sent to this paper, Estanio believed that the attempt on his life was job-related–specifically on his strong commentary against illegal gambling.
Estanio recalled that three days before the attack, an unnamed person warned him to go easy on illegal game machines proliferating in Surigao city, a racket that is estimated to earn as much as P200,000 per week. These operations reportedly enjoy the protection of police officials.
“I did not mind it thinking it wasn’t that serious,” Estanio said of the threat.
Gay Tiu, dxRS-RMN manager, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that RMN condemns the incident and has urged the authorities in Surigao City to hasten the investigation and arrest the suspects.
Tiu said the police are looking at two motives – personal and work-related.
"Kung naa man gani reklamo and na-igo sa mga commentaries ni Jan unta sa proper authorities dad-on. Lately wala kaayo issues man nga heavy kana lang mga panghitabo dinhi sa Surigao. Kung naa man bug-at nga issue passing lang dili gyud in-depth and discussion," Tiu said.
Tiu confirmed that Estanio had been receiving death threats through text messages lately.
"Even nightly niya nga program, naa mag-text and manghulga, gitambagan nako si Jan nga dili magkumpyansa ug dili i-take for granted kay open man iyang line sa cellphone,"Tiu said.
Tiu also mentioned that Estanio has a personal grudge over a land dispute.
"Naa daw siyay silingan nga nabikil tungod sa yuta nga iyang napalit nga medyo ang mga anak mipalag pero naa na sa korte ang kaso," Tiu said.
Estanio used to work as a radioman at dxCC-RMN in Cagayan de Oro prior to his transfer in Surigao City branch.
Digos city radioman harassment
The NUJP statement says that the attack on Estanio follows the harassment against Digos City (Davao del Sur) broadcaster Marland Malnegro of Gold-FM last June 24.
Malnegro’s house was shot at past 1 a.m. shattering its windows. At least four empty shells were found outside Malnegro’s house while four deformed slugs were found inside.
According to several colleagues in Davao del Sur, Malnegro has been “pouring his tirade” against illegal gambling and drugs in the province the past months, to the extent of questioning the performance of police officials.
In the past, a number of Davao del Sur journalists have been threatened due to their reporting about the same issues, in the process exposing the complicity of some police officials in these illicit activities, the statement reads.
“In similar cases in other places, the courage of our colleagues to expose these shenanigans caused them their lives,” the statement adds.
Cop sentenced for killing radioman
Amid the persistence of this worrying trend, the NUJP celebrates a recent victory in its continued effort to combat impunity. On June 27, Davao City’s Regional Trial Court Branch 10 sentenced Dennis Lumikid, a police officer, with a maximum of 40 years imprisonment, for the murder of Mati City broadcaster Desiderio Camangyan on June 4, 2010.
Camangyan, anchor of a blocktime program with Sunrise FM, was hosting a singing contest in a village in Manay, Davao Oriental when shot and killed.
According to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the conviction of Lumikid brings to 16 the number of cases of journalist killings where a gunman or gunmen were meted out justice. But CMFR, along with other media groups, have been lamenting that no mastermind has ever faced trial, except in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre.
“We demand that the new chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) immediately look into the likely involvement of police officers in the recent attacks against journalists in Surigao and Digos, especially in the spirit of Director General Ronald dela Rosa’s vow that his leadership will be ‘relentless in internal cleansing efforts.’”
Further, the NUJP hopes that the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte constitutes soonest the special mechanism conceived by his transition people for the speedy disposition of cases of media killings and attacks in order to boost the drive against impunity in the country.