Burning of Community Radio Station
Blamed on Soldiers, Condemned as ‘Media Repression’
Posted 2:05 p.m. July 3, 2006
Media groups expressed outrage over the
burning of a community radio station in Cagayan province, which was
blamed on soldiers of the 17th Infantry Battalion whose
detachment was only a kilometer away from the site.
The National Union of Journalists of the
Philippines (NUJP) and the World Association of Community Radio
Broadcasters (AMARC) condemned the burning as an attack to press freedom
and the people’s right to communicate.
Media groups, with
PHOTO BY WENG CARRANZA-PARAAN
Radio Cagayano station manager
Susan Mapa (third from left),
condemn the burning of the community radio in a press
conference in Quezon City, July 3.
NUJP spokesperson Jose Torres, Jr.
called on the Arroyo administration to find and punish the
perpetrators, even as he said their group claims government
culpability on the crime because of its inaction on other attacks on
The station of dwRC 90.1 FM Radyo
Cagayano, located at the town proper of mountainous Baggao was
burned by eight armed men wearing ski masks at 2 a.m., Sunday. The
suspects took the cellphones of the station manager and five staff,
whom they blindfolded and tied up and forced out before setting the
station on fire, using two gallons of gasoline.
At a press
conference this morning, dwRC station manager Susan Mapa, cried as she
recalled how the armed men wrapped her malong (blanket) around
her head. She said some of the suspects were in camouflage and combat
boots and carried M-16 armalite rifles. Mapa said she heard one of the
suspects referred to their leader as “sir.”
Mapa said the five
other radio station staff were injured as the suspects tied them up and
forced them down on the floor. The five were identified as: Arnold
Agraan, Joy Marcos, Richard Ayudan, Arlyn Arella, and Armalyn Baddua.
She recounted that the six of them ran toward the nearby parish convent
as the station was set ablaze while the suspects escaped.
An estimated P1.5
million worth of radio equipment were razed, and the personal belongings
of the staff worth P39,130.
Mapa said that the
police investigators led by SP03 Jose Durwin found a magazine of a .45
handgun and two spent bullets. “Gustong palabasin ng mga nanunog na
nagtatago kami ng baril,” she said. (The perpetrators wanted to
make it appear that we were keeping guns at the station.)
Mapa questioned the
delayed reaction of the Philippine National Police (PNP), whose
headquarters were only 300 meters away from the station. The police
arrived at the convent at 5 a.m., three hours after the incident, and
merely interviewed them. The investigators went up to the site later at
Brig. Gen. Jaime
Buenaflor, civil relations chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
(AFP) has denied the allegations in a radio interview.
vice president of the Women’s International Network of Asia Pacific and
an official of the international network AMARC, said they will relay the
news about the station’s burning to their 3,000 member stations. The
community radio is a member of AMARC Asia Pacific.
“Community radio is
one way of giving a voice to the voiceless..if this voice is taken away
by burning the people’s community radio station, it is a grave
violation of their right to communicate,” said Miglioretto.
“We will start a
campaign of protest to pressure the Philippine government to give
justice to the people of Radyo Cagayano,” she added. Bulatlat
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2006 Bulatlat
Alipato Media Center
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.