Journalists urge probe of Tabuk radio arson
By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — Journalists groups based in Tabuk, Kalinga and Baguio city called for the investigation and immediate resolution of the arson attempt on the only government-run radio station in Tabuk.
Reports received by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines – International Federation of Journalists (NUJP-IFJ) said that, “Three uniden-tified men set fire a government-owned radio station in Tabuk City, Kalinga early Tuesday morning, May 24, by hurling home-made gasoline bombs inside the station.”
Local police said the suspects shoved four homemade gasoline bombs by breaking the jalousie window inside the lavatory and toilet behind the station.
According to Paulo Dayag, security guard on duty then, he was awakened by a loud noise inside the lavatory and he saw the fire’s bright light coming from the room.
He immediately took the fire extinguisher and woke up the station’s technician, Willie Anastacio. Both of them put out the fire. The suspects fled on board a still unidentified green Mitsubishi Delica van.
Basil Baluyan, dzRK’s station manager, said that the fire partially burned his office, the supervisors’ room, and their kitchen.
The local police investigation is still on-going and the perpetrators have not been identified as of press time. The radio station is located at the compound of the Bulanao Central School of Tabuk.
The act is classified as arson under the Revised Penal Code, according to Atty. Joya Santos-Doctor, who explained that it is still arson regardless of the result whether the fire partially or totally burned the subject property.
Arson due to hard-hitting commentaries?
While the reason for the arson was still unknown, according to the police, some residents in Tabuk claimed that it might be intended to instill fear upon one of the station’s commentator.
Local radio broadcaster Jerome Tabanganay, who hosts the radio commentary “Agenda” in the same station, attributed the attack to dzRK’s unrelenting commentaries on the resumption of jueteng operations just this Sunday.
In May last year, Tabanganay himself survived an election-related assassination attempt which took place in the station. He was wounded and treated at the hospital.
Culture of impunity
In Kalinga, media practitioners urged the PNP, Governor’s Office, and Tabuk Mayor’s Office to double the effort to solve the arson attempt, arrest and charge the perpetrators in court.
“We take the act as a direct assault on press freedom as it was obviously designed to prejudice the operation of the radio station by burning down its facilities and by cowing its staff to silence through the implied threat of a similar act should they continue discharging their sworn duties of informing the public what’s going on in the province,” the Kalinga Media Club (KAMEC) said in its statement signed by its Pres. Regie Wacas, other officers and members.
The KAMEC added: “We have strong reasons to believe that the attack was directed at announcer Jerome Tabanganay due to his relentless crusade against criminality, corruption and other evils of our society through the airwaves.
The timing and circumstances of the incident indicate that it might be connected to the resumption of jueteng operations in Tabuk City. We also call on the Governor of the Province of Kalinga and the Mayor of the City of Tabuk to exercise their political will to cause the immediate stoppage of the operation of the illegal numbers game.”
The local, Baguio-Benguet chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said the act is clearly condemnable.
“The message there is violence can be committed at any given time to people and civilians and they would not respect civil liberties, and in this case, freedom of the press,” explained Desiree Caluza, Secretary General of the local NUJP.
Caluza said that the cowardly act must stop. “Violence should not be tolerated in this case. They can file cases, issue statements but not burn down a radio station,” she said.
NUJP believes that the weak implementation of laws in the provinces also contribute to this culture of impunity. # nordis.net