Slain GenSan publisher laid to rest; family, colleagues cry justice

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 January) – Slain community newspaper publisher Christopher
Guarin was laid to rest in nearby Polomolok town in South Cotabato on Sunday afternoon amid calls from his family and colleagues for faster police investigation and the immediate arrest of the gunmen and masterminds behind the killing.

In a requiem mass at the Saints Peter and Paul Parish Church in Barangay Lagao here, Guarin’s widow Lyn reiterated her calls for the immediate arrest of the two suspected hired gunmen and the brains behind the murder.

“I just want justice for my husband. I know God will make them pay for it,” she said in between sobs.

The funeral mass was joined by around 200 family members, friends, colleagues and city officials led by Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas.

Akbayan partylist Rep. Walden Bello and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) board of trustees member Mario Aguja made a brief stop at the parish church and later joined several Akbayan activists who showed up with placards seeking justice for Guarin and other victims of media killings in the country.

Around 50 vehicles carrying streamers calling for speedy justice for Guarin’s murder later joined the funeral motorcade from this city to the Holy Garden Matutum Memorial Park in Polomolok town.

Guarin, 41, was gunned down last January 5 in front of his wife and daughter while they were on their way home in Barangay Lagao here at around 10:30 p.m.

Wounded, Guarin tried to drive away but stopped after the gunman continued to fire at his vehicle.

He then alighted and tried to run but the killers finished him off.

Guarin sustained multiple gunshot wounds and died on the spot.

Guarin, who was publisher and editor of daily tabloid Tatak News, was a former reporter and station manager of radio stations Bombo Radyo and RGMA Super Radyo, respectively, and was a “block timer” of the Radio Mindanao Network station here before he was killed.

Senior Supt. Cedric Train, city police director, said they were already following up some leads on Guarin’s killing but admitted that they don’t have enough evidences yet to warrant the filing of cases against any suspect.

“We will solve this case, that’s an assurance. As of now, were investigating all possible angles related to this,” he said.

Chief Supt. Banjardi Mantele, Region 12 police director, earlier declared that the killing was not work-related but motivated by a personal grudge against the victim, a statement immediately rebuffed by the local media.

Speculations have also emerged pointing to alleged business rivalry as motive.

In November, Guarin was questioned but later cleared by police investigators over the killing of Brigada News circulation manager Alfredo Velarde Jr.

“We’re leaving all matters related to the investigation of this case to the police. But we’re calling on them to speed up their investigation and make the necessary arrests the soonest possible time,” said Edwin Espejo, chair of the local chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

“The delay (in the police investigation) will only give time for the suspects to cover their tracks,” he added.

Meantime, Kapisanan ng mga Brodcater ng Pilipinas (KBP)-General Santos chapter president James Catalan said on Sunday that the reward money raised by the local media for the arrest of Guarin’s killers has already reached P70,000.

A local politician who requested anonymity initially pledged some P50,000 last week for the reward money.

Catalan said several residents and local media entities made additional pledges for the fund, which City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio had also vowed to augment later on. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)