Police officer Apolonio Medrano has been arrested for the murder last July
of presenter Roger Mariano of local DZJC radio in the northern Cordillera
Police in Laoag on 16 November also arrested five other people implicated in
the murders of the journalist and the mayor of Ilocos Norte. The police
chief described Apolonio Medrano as the leader of the five suspects.
The murder of Roger Mariano may have been linked to his broadcast remarks
about protection provided by some police officers to organisers of illegal
gaming. He had also received threats following a report on corruption
involving a local electricity company.
Two journalists killed in five days
Arnel Manalo, a correspondent with the daily Bulgar and the radio station DZRH, was gunned down today in Bauan, (80 km south of Manilla). Roger Mariano, presenter of the programme "Roger in Action" on the privately-owned radio station DZJC-Akyson, was gunned down on 31 July in San Nicola (in the eastern province of Ilicos).
Reporters Without Borders roundly condemned these murders in a letter to President Macapagal-Arroyo and called for "the deployment of all necessary means in the investigations in order to identify both those who carried the killings out and the instigators."
The organisation also said it feared that "the climate of impunity will continue in the Philippines if the work of the police and judiciary does not lead quickly to the trial and conviction of those responsible." A total of 11 journalists have been killed since the start of 2003.
Malano was shot by individuals on a motorcycle as he was returning home with his brother, Appollo. According to the police, Appollo was unable to identify the killers and said he was unaware of any threats having been made against his brother.
Mariano’s bullet-riddled body was found alongside a national highway in San Nicola. He had been shot ten times by unidentified killers at around 8:00 pm on 31 July. He used to tackle many sensitive issues in his programme. In particular, he had accused the local authorities of abuses in the way they cracked down on an illegal form of gambling known as jueteng.
Seven journalists were killed in 2003. This was the highest number in any single year since democracy was established in 1986. Some of the contract killers allegedly involved have been arrested but not any of the instigators.