IRIGA CITY, Philippines—With overcast skies and a gentle drizzle, Romeo Olea, 49, the sixth journalist slain since President Benigno Aquino III came to power, was laid to rest before noon Saturday.
Olea was laid to rest at San Francisco Cemetery after a Mass at St. Anthony Parish here. He is survived by his wife Raquel, 46, and sons Jester Angelo, 20 and Janri, 13.
Olea was shot dead in Iriga City on June 13 while he was on his way to work at radio station dwEB in nearby Nabua, Camarines Sur, by an assassin riding on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice.
He is the second broadcaster from the same radio station killed in less than a year.
The first one was Miguel Belen, 48, who was shot seven times by motorcycle-riding assailants on July 9, 2010 while on the way to report at the dwEB-FM. He died in hospital after a month.
Police identified an Eric Vargas, 34, as the driver of the motorcycle, and one Gina Bagacina, allegedly a member of the New People’s Army, as the shooter in the Belen Killing.
Olea had been working in different local radio stations in Camarines Sur since 1998, starting at the dzGE in Canaman, Camarines Sur, moving to his hometown Iriga City at dwKI and then on to dwEB-FM in Nabua, Camarines Sur.
He was the host of the Anything Goes” program at the dwEB-FM where he delivered his biting commentaries against local politicians and government officials allegedly involved in anomalies.
Benny Decena, a colleague at the dwEB, told the Inquirer Saturday that Olea told him he had been receiving threats through text messages for weeks before he was slain Monday.
Decena said he discovered a week ago that Olea had a premonition about his fate and because of that he was carried gun for protection.
In his radio program, Jing Florece, acting assistant manager of dwEB-FM, noted that Olea had been discussing several issues involving a prominent family in Iriga City.
Florece said the most recent issue that the slain journalist had been discussing on the radio in his 30-minute commentary from 6:30-7:00 a.m. was the controversy that happened during a basketball tournament in Iriga City.
But Iriga City Mayor Madelaine Alfelor Gazmen complained that Florece had singled out the Alfelors as the local personalities supposedly being discussed by Olea.
Gazmen said Olea had also been discussing issues and commentaries against Deputy Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella for his move to partition Camarines Sur, the New People’s Army, the military, the Department of Public Works and Highways and many other local personalities.
“Olea could even be a sacrificial lamb to cast suspicion on the Alfelor family because people know he had been my No. 1 critic since Day One of my administration,” she said.
Gazmen said Olea worked in a radio station owned by a relative of Camarines Sur Governor Luis Raymund Villafuerte and that the slain broadcaster was allegedly biased in favor of the latter.
On Friday night, several colleagues in the media and local government officials have delivered testimonials regarding Olea’s work as a radio broadcaster in a necrological service held at the Chapel of St. Michael in Barangay San Miguel here.
He was described as a courageous broadcaster who was not easily intimated because he lived by his principles.
During the service, Camarines Sur Board member Rex Oliva condemned the recent media killings and then challenged the Aquino administration to act and resolve the murder of Olea.
Oliva said the provincial board has passed a resolution asking President Benigno Aquino III, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo to order an impartial investigation and put closure to case.
“The problem with the investigation is that it seemed it is only good while before the burial of the victim. After the burial of the victim, I am not sure what will happen to the case,” he said.
Bobby Labalan, director of the National Union of Journalist of the Philippines, said the NUJP condemned the death of Olea as the latest attack on press freedom.
He said the government should act swiftly in resolving Olea’s murder and of other journalists whose murder have remained unsolved.