Hired gunmen shot dead corruption whistleblower and journalist Marlene Esperat in front of her children in her own home in Sultan Kudarat on March 24, 2005.
Before she was killed, Esperat had received threats for her commentaries. Her husband George told a local radio station, “she…created many enemies because of her exposes. I told her earlier to stop but she just shrugged it off saying she’s just doing her work”.
Esperat worked at the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region 12 from 1987 to 2004 where she uncovered numerous cases of graft and corrupt practices allegedly committed
by public officials involving rampant misuse of public funds intended for fertilizer for the use of poor farmers. Both Osmeña Montañer and Estrella Sabay, suspected masterminds behind her killing, were named by Esperat as part of the corruption in DA Region 12.
Randy Grecia, Gerry Cabayang, and Estanislao Bismanos confessed to the crime and were sentenced to reclusion perpetua by the Cebu City Regional Trial Court judge Eric Menchaves in 2006. Meanwhile, despite an arrest warrant issued back in October 2008, Montañer and Sabay remain free.
“Is this how we reward and protect whistleblowers?” Marlene once asked in a meeting with the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. “It would be some consolation if the cases were moving and the accused jailed. But most of the time, that’s wishful thinking.”
More information on the killing of journalists and media workers can be found on the CMFR interactive map (http://www.cmfr-phil.org/journalistkilled)