Radio anchor shot in de Oro; in critical condition

Police Officer 2 Rustom Gines of Cagayan de Oro Police Station 5 said Labares who was on board a black Yamaha motorcycle, was shot on his back by the suspects who rode on a blue Honda XRM motorcycle as he was going home to Sitio Aluba, Barangay Macasandig at around 8 p.m.

Labares was shot at a dark portion of the road in Aluba, some 50 meters away from a popular restaurant.

Gines said the gunman who wore a cap and a blue jacket was about to finish off Labares but apparently got scared and sped off when Labares, who was unarmed, acted like he was drawing a gun from his waist.

Witnesses said the motorcycle driver was wearing a white helmet.

Labares, a former seminarian, co-anchors a daily radio program, DXCC Express at 4:30 p.m. over DXCC-RMN, the oldest radio station in Cagayan de Oro City.

Labares is also RMN's assistant news manager and he also edits for a local tabloid, Sports at Balita.

His co-anchor, Annaliza Reyes, said that for several weeks, Labares has been getting death threats on his cell phone.

Lately, Labares has been critical of the illegal video karera gambling allegedly operated by rogue policemen in Cagayan de Oro.

Video karera, estimated to be a P240 million-a-year gambling operation in Cagayan de Oro, is proliferating in 20 percent of the city’s 80 barangays.

Children as young as five years old in urban poor communities are among those hooked to the game.

Too poor to play the P10 to P15 per hour computer games in internet cafes, children of poor families fork out their one-peso coins to play video karera, more popularly known as
"tolilong."

Mayor Constantino Jaraula said the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) can not stop video karera operations because 80 percent of its officers and men are either on the take or are operators.

Jaraula said the police officers operate the gambling machines themselves or through their wives or partners to avoid getting caught.

“Corruption is already deeply rooted in our police force. It (has been there even) before we came into office,” Jaraula said.

Jaraula was elected mayor in 2007.

Labares’ colleagues in Cagayan de Oro trooped to the hospital upon hearing the news of his shooting. Outside the emergency room, discussion centered on arming journalists. Cagayan de Oro Press Club president Vincent Jaudian said the incident sends a chilling message to the local media and that it may be time for journalists with threats to their lives, to arm themselves. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)

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