Today's Punto
Today's Punto
11 media murders solved
By Ashley Manabat

Jun 07, 2018

CLARK FREEPORT – Eleven out of 160 cases of media killings have been considered solved by the government.

This was announced on Wednesday by Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Jose Joel M. Sy Egco who is also the executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFMS).

During the media forum “Talk Widus” organized by the Pampanga Press Club in cooperation with the Widus Hotel and Casino here, Sy Egco said 11 cases of media killings are now considered solved because the suspects have already been convicted.

Considered solved are the murders of Rolando Oreta whose killers were convicted in 2014; Gerardo “Gerry” Ortega, 2016 conviction; and Herson Hinolan, 2016.

Sy Egco said these three cases are the only ones reported in the international community.

The eight others were not reported in the media and discovered only after the PTFMS conducted its own investigations.

Sy Egco identified the eight other victims and the year their killers were convicted as Roel Edrinal, 2012; Arecio Madrigal, 2012; Alberto Orcilino, 2013; Bonifacio Loreto Jr., 2014; Miguel Belen, 2015; Martin Roxas, 2016; Desiderio Camangyan, 2016; and Jose Dalio, 2017.

He said all 11 cases are media related and included in the PTFMS inventory.

Sy Egco said in the case of Gerry Ortega, the PTFMS has fi led a motion for reconsideration before the Court of Appeals (CA) after it released the prime suspect, ex-Palawan governor Joel Reyes.

“We filed a motion for reconsideration with the CA in the case of Ortega and this is being done by the Solicitor General,” Sy Egco said.

The PTFMS also has in its inventory 10 media killings under the Duterte administration.

The first case is broadcaster Edmond Sestoso, a friend of Secretary Martin Andanar, Sy Egco said. But he said his killing is not media related. “It is slowly coming to light that what happened to him is not work-related. Apparently, there was an old grudge which involved a local armed group there,” he said.

The second case for this year is Carlos Matas of Zamboanga whose killing is also not media- related. “But even if it is not work-related we are also investigating it,” Sy Egco said.

The police ran after the killers and three were killed, one was wounded and also one wounded policeman, he said.

“But three suspects are still at large and being hunted down. Again, this is not work-related because the motive could be local politics and he is the leader of copra trading organization,” Sy Egco said.

The seven others are Apolinario Suan Jr., “His case is not work-related because he ran in the last elections even if he was a broadcaster so it’s crisscrossing,” he said.

The fourth case is that of Larry Que which is media-related, he said. The next is Mario Candawe of Ilocos. He was retired for two years. What happened here was he went to a drinking session, he courted a woman who has a boyfriend so it’s personal,” he said.

The sixth is Marlon Muygo which is also not work-related. The seventh is Jun Brionos, “who is my friend,” he said.

“We are still investigating because he was an applicant of the task force. We were very close friends, when he died we conducted an investigation. But his family said it’s not work-related. He did not hit anybody in his column but he was active in local politics. So, in the end, three suspects got killed… case closed,” Sy Egco said.

The next case is Rudy Alicaway, an entertainment radio broadcaster in Zamboanga.

“When he was killed, we found out that he was also a suspect in the killing of a former captain,” he said. “We have to dig this up. We don’t rely on Google.” The ninth case is Leo Diaz from Sultan Kudarat.

“Walang lumalabas na witness o anuman. Pinuntahan ko (There was nobody coming out as witness or anything. I went there…) but I did not leave and eventually someone did come out,” he said.

“But the case is also not work-related. This is proven because I was there. It has something to do with another case involving his grandchild… it started from there,” he explained.

The last case is Cristopher Lozada. “This is media-related because he really did lambaste the mayor on a daily basis. He even filed a case before the Ombudsman. He was the one who worked for the mayor’s dismissal. But two days before the mayor was dismissed, he was killed,” Sy Egco said.

Only two cases are considered directly media- related under Duterte administration, he said.

‘Solved’ defined

But Sy Egco lamented that the defi nition of “solved” by the United Nations Educational, Scientifi c and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is “actual court conviction.”

UNESCO has monitored media murders in the Philippines because its declared purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

“We are not an authoritarian regime that is why we cannot direct the judiciary. We have no control over the judiciary. We have no hand whatever in their decisions over what they are doing,” Sy Egco said. “The department of Justice (DOJ) files a case, that’s it,” he said.

“So they (UNSECO) began to understand that we don’t have any hold on the judiciary,” he said, “because for us solved means the case is cleared and a case was fi led in court.”

He also lamented that the Philippines has been labelled unfairly as one of the most dangerous.

“Why? Because we have a low conviction rate and there seems to be government apathy. But now we had those observations overturned,” Sy Egco said.

“So, from dangerous we are now vulnerable,” he said.

“We use the term vulnerable because we seek to address the vulnerabilities,” he explained. The most vulnerable are in Mindanao like Socsargen, Zamboanga and Davao peninsulas. But Maguindanao is the most vulnerable and the region it belongs,” he said.

“Impunity by international standards is when somebody gets killed and you turn around and leave. That’s impunity,” he said.

“But impunity is lost when somebody is killed and the police investigates and hunt down the killers and files a case. So that is not impunity, that’s their definition,” he said.

Among the 11 convictions, one opted for a plea bargain by pleading guilty to a lesser offense and was meted 14 years imprisonment, Sy Egco said.

The PTFMS executive director said the 11 solved cases will be reported to the various local and international media groups and to UNESCO.

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