Cebu blocktimer survives slay attempt

CMFR/PHILIPPINES — A radio blocktimer in Cebu City was shot by a still unidentified gunman on December 16. The broadcaster survived the attack. Cebu City is 1000 kilometers south of Manila.

Rico Osmeña, dyLA blocktimer and the Daily Tribune news stringer, was on his way home after his program when the incident happened according to local media reports. The victim was inside a minibus when the gunman aboard a motorcycle approached the moving vehicle and shot Osmeña two times.  The blocktimer sustained two wounds in the back. A female passenger was also wounded during the attack. The victims were immediately rushed to  hospital. .

The Cebu police said that they have created a team to investigate the shooting.

Osmena hosts the blocktime program “Karon Sugbo” which airs from Monday to Friday, 11 am to 12 noon. DyLA said that the blocktimer discussed various local issues in his program including politics and smuggling. 

Blocktiming is a practice in the Philippines in which “blocktimers” buy airtime from broadcast stations for their own programs.

According to an Inquirer report, Osmeña had received death threats days before he was shot.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Cebu Chapter condemned the attack in a statement and pointed out that it happened “proximate to the upcoming election period” setting “a chilling precedent (on) what awaits the free press (during) what are usually the most dangerous months for truth-tellers in the country.”  

CMFR notes that three journalists have been killed this year. The attack on Osmena happened eight days after Pampanga-based journalist Jess Malabanan was shot dead in Samar.

Also in July  this year, Cebu blocktimer Renante Cortes was killed by still unidentified gunmen while he was leaving the radio station after his news program.

Under the Duterte administration, from 30 June 2016 to 17 December 2021, 22 journalists were killed, four of them from Central Visayas,  three from Dumaguete, and one from Cebu.