Radioman shot dead in Palawan

Philippine Daily Tribune Online, 01/25/2011

A hard-hitting radio commentator was shot dead in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, yesterday morning, police said, becoming the second journalist to be murdered in the eight-month-old Aquino administration.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr. identified the victim as Dr. Gerry Ortega of Radio Mindanao Network’s dzAR based in the city.

According to Cruz, Ortega was shot in the head while shopping in a clothing store just after finishing his latest broadcast.

Police quickly caught his attacker but the motive for the

killing was not yet known, he said.

“Recovered from the suspect’s possession was a .45 cal. pistol,” the police official added.

Initial investigation showed that Marlon Dicamata, alias “Marvin Alcaraz,” is from Taguig City, Metro Manila, prompting the police to suspect that the gunman could be a hired killer.

When asked about the motive of shooting the victim, Alcaraz reportedly said he was out to rob Ortega.

Investigators are digging deeper into the case.

“We still cannot say if (Ortega’s murder) was related to his work as a radio commentator. The killer has accomplices who are still being hunted,” desk officer Robert Dagala said.

Before his murder, Ortega was known for his criticism against local corruption, and his advocacies for the protection of the province’s environment.

Tthe National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP), in a statement issued also yesterday said, “Ortega is the 142nd journalist killed since 1986 when democracy was restored in the Philippine after Ferdinand Marcos was toppled.”

“If the killing is proven to be work-related, he would be the second to be murdered under President Aquino. The first was radio reporter Miguel Belen of Iriga, Camarines Sur,” the NUJP said.

Aquino has said he intends to make the Philippines safer for journalists.

Jerry Yap, president of the National Press Club (NPC) of the Philippines, condemned the killing of Ortega.

He said the NPC will push a vigorous investigation to ferret out the truth about the latest media slaying.

An investigation, meanwhile, has been ordered by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

DoJ-Task Force Against Political Violence or Task Force 211 head Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan said his office has already coordinated with the Puerto Princesa police for the details on the death of Ortega.

The task force, according to Baraan, would determine if whether his murder was work-related or politically motivated brought about by the nature of his work as a critic of alleged corrupt politicians in the said province.

Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn who said Ortega had received death threats through text messages before he was killed has ordered local police to secure both Ortega’s family and suspected gunman. Benjamin B. Pulta, Gina P. Elorde, PNA and AFP

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