Radio broadcaster slain in Surigao Sur

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SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 Oct) – A community radio broadcaster in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur was fatally shot while his live-in partner sustained a bullet wound when they were ambushed Tuesday night, according to the police.

Christopher Lozada at the radio station. Photo grabbed from Lozada’s Facebook page

Authorities identified the victim as Christopher Iban Lozada, 29, operations manager and anchor of dxBF Prime Broadcasting Network. He was reportedly driving home with his live-in partner Honey Faith Indog Tuyco, 25, around 9 p.m. when unidentified gunmen armed with highpowered firearms opened fire.

Chief Insp. Joseph G. Gementiza, deputy chief of police of Bislig City, said Lozada was killed instantly after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds on his chest and head. Tuyco, on the other hand, was wounded on her shoulder and was rushed to the Andres Soriano Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Gementiza said they have yet to determine the motive behind Lozada’s murder.

Death threats

Police investigators have found out that Lozada had reported receiving multiple death threats.

Gementiza said Lozada went to their police station twice to report the death threats.

Police said Lozada, who anchored a daily commentary program “Batikos,” received threats via text messages on September 26, October 12 and 19. He posted the threats on his Facebook page.

Lozada was driving his car and upon reaching Purok 5 in Barangay Coleto in Bislig, they were strafed with AK-47 and M-16 rifles automatic rifles.

Gementiza said they recovered empty shells of both rifles at the crime scene.

Lozada was also reportedly involved in the filing of charges against Bislig Mayor Librado Navarro and 11 other local officials who were ordered dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman last month.

The case stemmed from an alleged anomalous deal on July 18, 2012, which involved a purchase of a Komatsu crawler-type hydraulic excavator worth P14.7 million from Cebu-based RDAK Transport Equipment Inc.

For his part, Navarro declined to comment on the incident since he still needs to get more details from police reports as he is still in Cagayan de Oro City attending the National Organic Agriculture Congress.

“In behalf of the City of Bislig, may I express my deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family of the late Christopher Lozada,” the mayor said.

He said Lozada was the spokesperson of his political rival in the local election in 2013 which he won handily but went on to file three libel cases against Lozada at the local court.

The day before he was gunned down, Lozada went to the Department of Interior and Local Government regional office in Butuan City to follow up on the case on the purchase of the hydraulic excavator.

Lozada was the complainant of nine graft cases against Navarro and city hall workers.

Lozada had been exposing on air and posting on his Facebook account the deaths threats he had been receiving from text messages and anomalous callers.

An FB account of a certain Juan Cover based in Bislig City, apparently a supporter of Lozada, has been posting wild accusations against Navarro. His posts include: “P85k reward kung sino makapatay kay Cris Lozada. By: Librado Navarro” and “Tabla na ta! Ikaw Cris Lozada, patay na. Ako tanggal sa pagka mayor pero buhi pa. LIBRADO CUBIL NAVARRO.”

But Navarro retorted the social media attacks against him are the handiwork of his opponents to damage his name and reputation. “Who is stupid  enough to post a message in public to order the killing of a person?” he said.

Even as he denied involvement in the killing, the mayor said Lozada had already drawn many enemies in the neighboring areas of Bislig for the complaints that had piled up because he had been treating patients with his “Dok Alternatibo” alternative medicines.

Impunity

Since 2009, the province of Surigao del Sur had recorded a total of seven gun attacks involving radio broadcasters. Six of the broadcasters were killed.

Among the victims were Godofredo Linao Jr., who was killed in Barobo town in July 27, 2009; Datu Roy Quijada Gallego in October 14, 2011 in Lianga town; Michael Milo in December 8, 2013 in Tandag City; Apolonio Suan, a provincial board member who hosted a radio program over Real FM in Bislig, who was shot on board his van in July 14, 2016; and Joe Climaco, host of a local TV program that was linked to radio stations, who was killed in August 25, 2016.

Last July, a radio broadcaster in Marihatag town survived a gun attack.

Julito Orillaneda, 35, owner and operator of the dxJB FM, was about to disembark from a tricycle when the gunman on a motorcycle shot him several times, hitting him in the head, neck, face and right arm.

Orillaneda has been a hard-hitting radio commentator and staunch critic of Marihatag Mayor Raul Cubil.

Of all the incidents no single suspect has been prosecuted, according to local journalist Judith Suarez. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)

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