Judge Lifts Warrant on Suspect in Davao Journalist’s Slay


The warrant of arrest issued against Inspector Redempto Acharon, main suspect in the killing of Davao-based radio broadcaster Dennis Cuesta, was lifted by the very judge who issued it.

Dennis Cuesta was shot by two motorcycle-riding gunmen on Aug. 4, 2008. His colleagues believe the attack was work-related. He died after struggling for five days in the intensive care unit. Cuesta was known for analysis of local political issues in his radio program.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP chapter in Davao, Judge Isaac Alvero V. Moran of General Santos City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 36 stated in his Feb. 3 decision that the warrant of arrest he issued against Acharon has been “virtually stripped” of its legal basis. This is in reference to General Santos RTC Executive Judge Oscar P. Noel’s decision issued Feb. 11, ordering that the case be re-raffled and “considered as a newly filed case.”

NUJP-Davao stated they find it disturbing that Noel also stated in his Feb. 11 decision that he “finds no cogent reason to disturb the raffling of the case to Branch 36” but still ordered the case to be re-raffled and considered a newly filed case.

Noel stated in his decision that the goal of the reraffling is “to give peace of mind to the concerned party (who is Acharon).”

According to NUJP-Davao, colleagues who have been monitoring other cases of murdered journalists had predicted that this move will happen.

The fact that “their prediction has been accurate makes us fear the Cuesta murder may end up like the majority of the other cases of our slain colleagues, with justice denied and the gunmen and masterminds free to wreak more mayhem. Not to mention embolden others who seek to impose the ultimate censorship on journalists,” according to NUJP-Davao.

NUJP-Davao said they are posing a challenge to the government to take possible actions for justice to be served for Cuesta. They also called on their colleagues and the public “to join efforts in seeing that this and all the other cases of murdered journalists see closure with the arrest, prosecution and punishment of the killers and masterminds, that true ‘peace of mind’ may reign over this benighted land.” (Bulatlat.com)

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