While on his way home on his motorcycle after his radio program, “Roger Mariano in Action”, Rogelio “Roger” Mariano was gunned down on July 31, 2004. Mariano was said to be at the point of breaking a major story before he signed off on his program that night. He was wearing a trademark belt bag that contained a disk with information about the alleged scams at a local electric company in Ilocos. When his dead body was recovered, only his belt bag was missing; his wristwatch and wallet were untouched.
“Mariano’s murder was an assault against freedom. Democracy is in peril if the press is under threat,” City Councilor Melvin de la Cuesta, also a media practitioner, was quoted in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 6, 2004.
Senior Police Officer 4 Apolonio Medrano and Basilio Yadao were arrested and detained at the Ilocos Norte Provincial Jail after a warrant of arrest was issued against them based on the testimony of one Alvin Turingan, the tricycle driver who witnessed the ambush. The other suspects, however, remain at large.
The trial was suspended when Mariano’s wife, Alma, sought a change of venue on July 2005 due to safety concerns. According to some reports, Alma Mariano also feared that witnesses in her husband’s murder might be pressured, given the alleged influence of SPO4 Medrano in the province.
The case was transferred to Manila and the two suspects detained at the Manila City Jail in 2006.
The trial was among the few cases of slain journalists expected to have resulted in a conviction. However, in 2010, the Manila Regional Trial Court acquitted Medrano and Yadao.
More information on the killing of journalists and media workers can be found on the CMFR interactive map (http://www.cmfr-phil.org/journalistkilled).