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Capiz broadcaster 4th journalist killed this year

2 suspects held

By Felipe V. Celino
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:03:00 08/08/2008

Filed Under: Crime, Politics, political killings

ROXAS CITY?A radio broadcaster was killed here Thursday after he was shot in the back at 1:15 p.m. while riding a motorcycle on his way home from work.

Police identified the fatality as Martin Roxas, an anchorman of Radio Mindanao Network dyVR.

Roxas was brought to Capiz Emanuel Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

He handled the program ?Targetanay sa Udto,? aired from noon to 1 p.m. daily, which tackles local politics.

Three days before the attack on Roxas, another radio broadcaster, Dennis Cuesta, was shot in General Santos City. He is still fighting for his life in a hospital.

The attacks come more than a month after gunmen shot and killed Bert Sison, a reporter for a community newspaper in Quezon province. Sison?s daughter, who is also a journalist, was wounded in the attack.

Roxas is the fourth journalist to be killed in the Philippines this year.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and French group Reporters Without Borders have branded the Philippines the second most dangerous place for working journalists outside Iraq.

Three journalists were killed in the Philippines last year, while 12 were killed in 2006.

On way home

Roxas was on his way home after his radio program when he was shot by one of two men riding a motorcycle.

?He (Roxas) was aboard a motorcycle, and was just 900 meters away from the station when a gunman shot him in the back of the neck,? RMN radio station manager Ely Abarra said.

Roxas, who left behind a wife and two children aged 3 and 1, had been a radio commentator for over a decade.

Political squabble

Abarra said there was an apparent attempt on Roxas? life recently, when he was kicked from his motorcycle. Roxas dismissed the incident, but had been taking precautions.

Police said it was possible Roxas could have been attacked because of his work.

?This week, his topics touched on an ongoing political squabble involving two politicians,? Abarra said without elaborating.

Witnesses said the assailants, each wearing a helmet, followed Roxas from the radio station. When the assailants overtook Roxas, one of them shot him, hitting him in the back. The bullet exited through the victim?s heart.

After the shooting, the killers turned back and fled, according to Chief Insp. Leo Batiles, Roxas City police commander.

But policemen on a patrol car between Roxas City and Ivisan town saw two men on a motorcycle who fit the description of the two assailants, Batiles said.

The policemen pursued the two men who were fleeing toward Ivisan.

Arrested at checkpoint

Police arrested the two men at about 2 p.m. at a checkpoint set up by the Ivisan town police in Barangay Poblacion North.

Police identified the suspects as Joenel Lastimoso, 27, of Barangay Cagay, Roxas City, and Christian Tan, 25, of Barangay Quivido, Maayon, Capiz.

Lastimoso is facing a drug-pushing case and has a pending warrant of arrest, Batiles said.

The arrests were made based on the description of witnesses that one of the killers had blond hair and that both suspects were in their 20s, slim and were about 5?7? tall.

Lastimoso and Tan were on a motorcycle that had no license plate when arrested. Witnesses said the motorcycle used by Roxas? assailants did not have a license plate.

The suspects were detained at the Ivisan police station.

P50,000 reward

In General Santos City, Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr. has offered a P50,000 reward for anybody who could lead to the arrest of the suspects in the shooting of Cuesta.

Acharon made the pledge at a press conference on Wednesday. He said the reward may be small but added it could help in tracing the identities of the suspects.

Cuesta is still in coma despite the removal of the slug from his skull and a bullet from his stomach.

A bullet also shattered Cuesta?s left arm.

Gloria, the broadcaster?s wife, said she was happy the police were doing everything to resolve the case.

Task Force 211

In Manila, the Department of Justice-led interagency Task Force 211, formed to curb political killings, Thursday said it was extending ?full legal assistance? to the family of Cuesta.

Task Force 211 head, Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor, said the unit would spare no effort to ensure that Cuesta?s attackers are quickly arrested and brought to justice.

The task force was created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to look into and help in the resolution of extra-judicial killings, including those involving media persons.

In a statement, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) strongly condemned the attacks on Roxas and Cuesta.

Within 72 hours

?This latest round of violence against the news media is even more reprehensible when we consider that both incidents have taken place within less than 72 hours of each other,? KBP said.

The group said Roxas was the second broadcaster to be killed this year, bringing to 46 the number of broadcasters, out of 74 journalists, killed in the line of duty since 1986.

?The impunity with which journalists continue to be killed or harmed has become a national shame. We ask the government to do everything in its power to end this disgrace and grave threat to our democracy,? it added. With reports from Agence France-Presse, Eldie S. Aguirre, Inquirer Mindanao and Jerome Aning in Manila



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