CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/20 January) – DXIF-Bombo Radyo anchorman Junel Ucat revealed in a dialogue Tuesday between journalists and the city police office that he received last Jan. 12 a text message that threatened to kill him or any of his colleagues.
“Di jud ka mu undang Junel Ukat sa paghisgut sa kahanginan bahin sa salvaging? Kami jud imong ingkwentruhon? Gikapoy na ka sa imong kinabuhi? Pahulayon ka na namo (You won’t stop Junel Ukat your commentaries on the salvaging? You really want to go against us. Are you tired of your life? We will let you take a rest),” said the text message from an anonymous sender who used the number 09363527361.
The sender continued: “Magkuha mi usa sa inyo pamasin na makahunahuna ang imong ulo na daku (We will kill one of you so that maybe your big head can think it over).”
Ucat said the threats might have been triggered by the stinging commentaries he and his fellow Bombo Radyo anchormen aired against the policemen who were tagged by a survivor of an extra-judicial killing that left three dead.
The intimidating text sent to Ucat prompted the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to call for a Media Safety Dialogue at the Archbishop’s Residence here Tuesday morning.
Over one hundred journalists attended the dialogue presided by Monsignors Elmer Abacahin and Perseus Cabunoc, vicar general of the Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese.
COPC President Jerry Orcullo said he suspects that the threats came from the police officers and fellow policemen angered by the commentaries.
Orcullo said they are holding the city police office responsible for any harm that may befall on Ucat and other DXIF Bombo Radyo staff members.
“Our families are already alarmed. They are afraid that threat will extend to our families,” Bombo anchorman and Ucat’s colleague Mark Martirez said.
Martirez asked the city police office if they could still count on the police force for protection since most of those implicated are their colleagues.
“Are we assured you are there for us?” Martinez asked City Police Director Faro Olaguera who attended the meeting.
For his part, Olaguera said they would extend assistance adding the threats have put the entire police force “in a bad image,” adding he will order an investigation into the alleged threats against Ucat and his radio station.
The threats came after a survivor implicated four police officers in the killing of brothers Arnold and Harold Jamaca and another companion, Ma. Erica Yabut, whose bodies were found last Dec. 11.
Senior Supt. Alexander Camilon Tagum, chief of the PNP Criminal Detection Group 10 said their fourth companion, Jim Jamaca, a cousin who played dead and survived, tagged four police officers as responsible.
Tagum identified the police officers as Senior Insp. Ludwig Charles Espera, chief of the Cagayan de Oro tourist police unit; Insp. Arnel Gighe, Espera’s deputy; PO1 Manuel Quipanes; and PO1 Jun Reil Barrientos.
A certain Atty. Marlon Yap and four others were also implicated.
The group was believed to have carried out over 60 extra-judicial killings recorded in Cagayan de Oro in 2014.
Tagum said the police officers belong to a drug syndicate that murders their couriers if a drug deal fails.
Regional State Prosecutor Jaime Umpa said he is now handling the case after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered its transfer from the City Prosecutor’s Office.
Ed Montalvan, publisher of the weekly Mindanao Current said there should be a mechanism where journalists who come under threat may seek protection.
JB Deveza, NUJP Mindanao Safety Officer said such mechanism can be implemented under the supervision of the Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)