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Missing Kidapawan broadcaster found dead

/ 12:30 AM September 06, 2012

COTABATO CITY—A radio broadcaster was found dead in the Liguasan marshland near Sultan sa Barongis town in Maguindanao on Sunday, becoming the country’s sixth journalist to be killed this year, officials and colleagues said on Wednesday.

Soldiers recovered the decomposing remains of Eddie Jesus Apostol five days after his family reported him missing, said Colonel Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

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Nestor Burgos, chairman of the media watchdog National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), told Agence France-Presse that it was not immediately clear if the killing was related to Apostol’s work.

Apostol, 52, was a block timer of the program “Konseho sa Kahanginan” (Council on the Air) sponsored by the Agham party-list group over dxND radio station, which is based in Kidapawan City. He also served as a municipal councilor of Magpet in North Cotabato and was a known treasure hunter.

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Apostol started his 30-minute, once-a-week radio program only two months ago.

Apostol and other hosts of Konseho sa Kahanginan discussed only developmental issues and mainly interviewed local government officials about their programs and projects, according to Malu Manar, NUJP chapter chair in Kidapawan and dxND programming director.

Agham Representative Angelo Palmones sponsors the program, which first went on air on June 8, 2011.

Work-related?

“We always consider journalist killings here as possibly work-related,” Burgos said.

The broadcaster’s hands and feet were tied with a rope and he had two bullet wounds in the head when fished out of the marsh by members of the Army’s 55th Special Forces Battalion, Asto told reporters.

The soldiers learned of the discovery of the body from villagers in Barangay Masulot in Sultan sa Barongis.

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Apostol was last seen leaving his home on board his brand-new Honda XRM motorcycle, along with an unidentified companion who was to guide him to a “treasure hunting site” near the border of Pikit, also in North Cotabato, and Datu Piang, Maguindanao.

Relatives in Magpet said Apostol could have been duped into going to Pikit, where he was possibly divested of his motorcycle before he was killed.

Press card?

A still unknown sum of money was also missing, although his press card was recovered, according to the NUJP. Officials of dxND management said it does not issue press cards to block timers.

Outspoken journalists are routinely attacked in the Philippines, which watchdogs say is one of the most dangerous places in the world for members of the press. A total of 153 journalists have been killed in the Philippines in pursuit of their profession since 1986, said NUJP secretary general Rowena Paraan.

The latest killing occurred in Maguindanao province, where members of a powerful political clan are on trial for the November 2009 murders of 57 people, including 32 media workers.

Apostol was the sixth journalist to be killed in the Philippines this year, four of whom were considered to have been killed because of their work, Paraan told AFP. Reports from Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao, and AFP

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TAGS: Crime, Eddie Jesus Apostol, Maguindanao, Media Killing, NUJP
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