Kidapawan City broadcaster threatened

A radio commentator in Kidapawan City has reported receiving threatening calls on Monday, June 27,2011, from a caller who identified herself as the mother of a murder suspect  arrested by police Sunday, June 26, for murder.

The caller, who called the radio station Monday morning while broadcaster Abner Francisco was anchoring his daily radio program “Pulso ng Bayan” (Pulse of the Nation), told one of the staff of DxCA Charm Radio Kidapawan City that she would send armed men to the station if Francisco would not stop commenting on her son’s arrest.

The caller identified herself as Eva Benjamin, mother of murder suspect Roberto Celis, Jr., who belongs to one of the rich families in the city.

Benjamin told Francisco she does not like the way he “verbally attacked” her son.

Francisco, who also heads a local anti-corruption group WATCH (Watchful Advocates for Transparency, Clean and Honest Governance), had been discussing the arrest of Celis Sunday and had said in his commentary program the reason why Celis was able to roam freely around the city despite the warrant of arrest issued against him four years ago was his family’s wealth, influence, and power in the community.

The family has “close ties” with many top police and Army officials in the province.

To make sure the caller was indeed Benjamin, Francisco sought help from friends who had contact with the woman.

He was able to talk to Benjamin’s other son identified as Viloria who vehemently denied it was his mother that called up the station and threatened Francisco.

Celis was accused of killing in 2008 the son of a retired police officer in the city but had been free to roam the city until Sunday despite a warrant for his arrest.

“Of all the threats I received since I started doing the job, this was the most terrifying.  I know the family.   I have heard so many stories about them,” Francisco said.

Francisco said he already reported the incident to the local police. He said he was also interviewed by other journalists to further publicize the threat.


Malu Cadelina Manar
Chairperson, NUJP Kidapawan Chapter

Jb R. Deveza
Coordinator, NUJP Mindanao Media Safety Office

Rowena C. Paraan
Secretary General, NUJP