Radio blocktimer shot dead in Mindanao

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Police are still searching for the suspected gunmen who shot dead a radio blocktimer and indigenous tribe chief in Surigao del Sur last 14 October 2011. (Blocktimers are individuals or groups who buy “blocks” of radio time for programs which they then market to advertisers and various groups.)

Surigao del Sur is a province approximately 866 kilometers south of Manila.

Unidentified men riding in tandem on a motorcyle gunned down (Datu) Roy Quijada Gallego around 5:15 p.m. (local time) on 14 October 2011 along a national highway in Mamprasanon, Banahaw village in Lianga town. Gallego sustained four gunshot wounds in different parts of his body and was pronounced dead on arrival at the Lianga District Hospital. The police recovered three spent shells and one slug allegedly from a .45 caliber pistol.

Police Insp. Joy Allan Blasco of Lianga Police Station told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) last 18 October 2011 that initial investigation showed that “Matagal nang sinusundan ng mga suspek si Gallego kasi parang kabisado na nila yung’ mga lakad niya, kaya alam nila kung kailan at saan siya papatayin (It looks like the suspects have been following the broadcaster for quite some time and already know Gallego’s routines. They seem to know when and where they can kill him).”

Blasco said the police are considering two motives behind the killing of Gallego – his hard-hitting commentary in his radio program and his involvement with an organization for the protection of the rights of lumad (indigenous) people in Mindanao.

Sabi ng mga pinsan niya na maraming galit sa kanya dahil sa matatapang at matitinding komento niya sa kanyang programa (Gallego’s cousins said that many resent Gallego because of his no-holds-barred commentaries),” Blasco told CMFR.

Gallego previously hosted blocktime programs at local radio stations dxDA, dxSF, and dxJM. JB Deveza, Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent and National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) Safety Officer in Mindanao, said Gallego was supposed to start a blocktime program in another radio station in Agusan del Sur a few days after the broadcaster was killed.

According to dxSF station manager Max Tutor, Gallego’s program at dxSF was funded by the Bayanihan (cooperative endeavor) Council of Datus (BACODA) and usually “tackles concerns about indigenous people in Mindanao.” Gallego, who was called Datu Bagtikan by his Manobo tribe, was the president of BACODA in Caraga (Region XIII) at the time of killing.

Meanwhile, GMANews Online quoted Gallego’s widow as saying that his killing may be connected to “his stand against oppression and neglect of the lumad people by the government, particularly the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP).” BACODA has pending complaints against NCIP, the Bureau of Mines and Geo-Sciences and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Four out of the 10 media killings under the 15 month old Aquino administration have been confirmed as work-related. CMFR has recorded 121 work-related cases of killing of journalists and media practitioners since 1986.