GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 April) – Unidentified gunmen shot dead a driver of a radio station in front of the South Cotabato Provincial Hospital in nearby Koronadal City early Monday.
Herminio Legaspi, manager of radio station dxMC Bombo Radyo-Koronadal, said station driver Romel “Jojo” Palma, 31, has just ferried one of their reporters to the facility at past 5 a.m. when he was waylaid by two motorcycle-riding suspects.
“He was about to park our patrol vehicle when the suspects approached and shot him,” Legaspi said.
Palma, who sustained four gunshot wounds on his back and neck from a caliber .45 handgun, was declared dead at around 5:45 a.m. by attending doctors at the provincial hospital, he said.
Rey Legario, Bombo Radyo-Koronadal reporter, said he has just entered the provincial hospital’s emergency room to get a report when several shots came out from the facility’s parking area.
He immediately hurried to the scene along with the hospital’s security guard and saw a Honda TMX motorcycle speeding away from their station’s pickup-type patrol van.
Legario said the hospital’s security guard tried to run after the gunmen and even fired several shots but failed to hit them.
“We rushed to our patrol vehicle and saw a bleeding (Palma) already slumped on the steering wheel, with the engine still running,” he said.
“It happened so fast, it appears to be well-planned,” added Legario.
Mario Neyra, the station’s chief technician, said it appears that the suspects’ main target is Palma, who occasionally conducts live afternoon weather and area situation reports for the radio station.
He said the suspects may have waited for their reporter to first get off the vehicle before attacking Palma.
Neyra said they’re not aware whether Palma had received any threat on his life prior to this morning’s incident.
“We can’t think of any possible motive yet or if anyone was holding serious grudges against him,” he said.
Palma was the second media worker to have been murdered in South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos City (Socsargen) area since January.
On January 5, Tatak News publisher-editor Christopher Guarin was gunned down by two alleged hired assassins while on his way home along with this wife and daughter in Barangay Lagao here.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 12 had filed murder charges against an alleged “gun-for-hire” identified as Marvin Palabrica in connection with Guarin’s killing. The alleged gunman, whom authorities tagged as the key link to the killing’s possible brains, has remained at-large. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)