Two wanted for murder of columnists

CMFR/Philippines – The police have formally charged two suspects for the 30 July 2013 murder of two tabloid columnists in Quezon City, Manila. The suspects have yet to be arrested.

The police have not concluded that the victims were killed for their work. But the family members of one of the slain said they could not think of any other motive for the killing.

Police have filed two counts of murder charges last 13 August 2013 against Clemente Bersoza and Roel Manaog. Witnesses identified the suspects, police said, after going through the mug files of people with criminal records.

Bersoza and Manaog are suspected to have killed Aksyon Ngayon tabloid columnists Bonifacio Loreto Jr. and Richard Kho last 30 July 2013. Men riding a motorcycle in tandem fired several times at Loreto and Kho, as well as a witness, in front of Loreto’s convenience store.

Senior police officer Pascual Fabreag, case investigator, told CMFR last 16 August 2013 that the police have yet to establish the motive for the killing since the suspects have not been apprehended.

Loreto’s family members however, could not think of any other motive aside from his entering the tabloid business.

But, Loreto’s common law wife, Nora, told CMFR last 5 August, “The threats only began when he published the tabloid.”

Aksyon Ngayon came out with only one issue dated 26 February to 4 March 2013. Nora said her husband was already planning a second issue and looking for an office to rent before the killing happened.

Nora also told CMFR 16 August that she had not received updates from the police and that she is moving back to her home province. Loreto’s other family, his mother and siblings, will remain in the city.

Nora’s store-aide, who witnessed and survived the July 30 shooting by playing dead, fled the city days after the incident.

CMFR has yet to make contact with Kho’s family.

At the time of their shooting, Loreto and Kho’s cases brought the number of work-related media killings in the Philippines to 133 since 1986 and to 15 under President Benigno Aquino III’s administration.

These numbers increased by one less than 48 hours later when photojournalist Mario Sy was shot in General Santos City, some 1,600 kilometers south of Manila, last 1 August 2013.