Blocktimer shot dead, impunity still exists

CMFR/Philippines – A blocktimer was shot dead in Valencia City, Bukidnon province, on 29 November 2013, six days after the anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre and the International Day to End Impunity on 23 November and after a presidential spokesperson said that “there is no more impunity” in the Philippines.

Valencia City is some 1,500 kilometers south of Manila.

Joash (Joas) Dignos, blocktimer at dxGT Radyo Abante in Maramag town, was with friends Friday night when he went to the rest room where he was shot by an unidentified man.

Dignos ran outside, to his car, but three more men shot him. He had at least 28 gunshot wounds, according to the police. The gunmen escaped on two motorcycles.

Dignos hosted the blocktime program “Bombardeyo” that aired weekday mornings. He was known as a harsh commentator, according to dxGT program manager Mars Medina.

“He was always talking about the issues of Valencia City, hitting the mayor,” Medina told CMFR on 2 December.

On 2 June, dxGT was attacked with a grenade while airing Dignos’ program. Dignos, who was pre-taping his programs, was not in the station when the grenade exploded, but a station caretaker was hurt.

The killing came in the heels of  Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio “Sonny” B. Coloma Jr.’s saying during a 22 November press briefing that “Siguro naman po, makatwirang sabihin na sa kasalukuyan ay hindi na po umiiral iyan (Maybe, it’s justified to say that there is no more impunity.).”

Coloma argued that some of those in Philippine media organizations’ lists of journalists and media workers killed were “fly by night” or fake journalists.

In a statement, CMFR said that it “includes blocktimers and those working in tabloids who may be sponsored by political and commercial interests, because whatever the quality of their work, they remain part of the free media community, exercising a crucial role in a democracy and equally protected by the Constitution.”

On 1 December, Coloma, in an interview aired on Radyo ng Bayan, responded to Dignos’ killing by saying that “We are determined to end the culture of impunity that has brought about these media killings.”

Dignos is the 20th journalist/media worker killed in the line of duty since the administration of President Benigno Aquino III came to power in 2010, and the 9th this year.