Radio blocktimer found dead in General Santos City

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Local police in General Santos City are investigating the killing of a radio blocktimer and columnist at a radio compound last 13 March 2010.

The lifeless body of blocktimer Chito Abuzo was found at around 11 p.m. (local time) at a building in the compound of dxGS radio station in General Santos City, a city approximately 1,049 kilometers south of Manila. Abuzo, also a columnist in the local tabloid Sapol (Hit), had allegedly been beaten to death by four men with a concrete block.

City Police Director Senior Superintendent Marcelo Pintac told the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper last March 15 that the police are pursuing leads to the whereabouts of  four suspects, but refused to identify the suspects. Pintac told the Inquirer that the killing might have been motivated by personal grudge.

In a 16 March 2010 interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Sapol and Mindanao Inquirer publisher John Paul Jubelag said that based on their investigation Abuzo and the suspects had an altercation prior to the killing.

Witnesses said the victim fell to the ground after the suspects punched and hit him with a bottle on the head.  As he lay on the ground, one of the suspects hit him with a five-kilo concrete.

Jubelag said Eddie Perali, the suspect who hit Abuzo with concrete, is the lover of Gigi Dominice, a blocktimer Abuzo was allegedly courting. “Someone heard ‘Gigi’ being mentioned during the altercation. There are rumors that Abuzo was allegedly pursuing the suspect’s lover,” Jubelag added.

The suspects remain at large as of press time.

If work-related, Abuzo will be the 115th journalist/media worker killed in the line of duty since 1986 and the 77th killed during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The number of work-related killings of journalists and media workers in the Philippines surged in 2009 after 32 journalists and media workers covering the filing of a local politician’s Certificate of Candidacy were killed in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, along with the politician’s wife, relatives and supporters.

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