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Philippines 31 December 2007

Philippines: politician’s bodyguard held as suspect in journalist’s murder

Police in Davao have arrested Olivier Baldonado Antoc, an army reservist and local politician’s bodyguard, as a suspect in the investigation into the murder of radio DXGO commentator Ferdinand Lintuan on Christmas Eve. After detaining him on 28 December for illegal possession of a firearm and drugs, police realised he resembled the sketch of the gunman that had been drawn from witness descriptions, and that the gun he was carrying, a 45 calibre revolver, was the type used in the killing. Two of the three witnesses then identified him in a lineup. Antoc denies any role in Lintuan’s murder and one of the investigating officers, Benhur Mangao, told the website that the police need more evidence.

Jovito Palparan, a former general who is now an adviser to local politician Prospero Nograles, has meanwhile been named by several people and news media as a possible instigator of Lintuan’s murder. The Philippines Press Club has asked the authorities to assign the case to policemen from outside of Davao for fear that Palparan could otherwise influence the investigation. Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte, a rival of Nograles, was the first person to publicly name Palparan as a possible suspect. Journalists’ organisation have also said that a paramilitary organisation known as the “Davao Death Squad” may have been involved.

24-12 : Radio host gunned down in Christmas Eve

Reporters Without Borders calls for energetic measures from President Gloria Arroyo to quickly track down the murderers of Ferdinand Lintuan, a radio programme host and well-known critic of local officials, who was gunned down this morning just after leaving his radio station, DXGO Radio, in Davao City (on the southern island of Mindanao).

Station manager Raul Antopuesto said he had no doubt that Lintuan was murdered because of his work as a journalist.

“On this Christmas Eve, the Philippine press community has again been hit by a terrible murder. The method used leaves no doubt that it was a targeted killing of a journalist who had criticised local politicians. President Arroyo and the national police chief have a duty to give the local investigators all the resources they need to catch the gunmen and those who put them up to it.”

Nicknamed “Batman” by his colleagues, Lintuan is the fifth journalist to be killed this year in the Philippines. Reporters Without Borders believes that Carmelo Palacios of dzRB Radio ng Bayan, murdered in April, was the only one of the other four who was killed because of his journalistic work.

Two men riding a motorcycle and wearing helmets shot Lintuan at close range as he drove away from the radio station in a car with two fellow journalists, Louie Ceniza and Edgar Banzon. Hit in the head, he died instantly.

Aged 51 and the father of four, Lintuan had often criticised local politicians, including the Davao City government, on the air. He had, in particular, accused local officials of corruption in connection with the “People’s Park,” a local development project which he called the “Crocodiles’ Park.”

Lintuan was the first president of the Davao Association of Sports Journalists.

National police chief Avelino Razon said he has ordered an investigation and the creation of a special “Batman” task force. Presidential adviser Jesus Dureza said: “The government will not allow this criminal act to go unpunished.”

In this country
22 May - Philippines
A journalist on army target list, another shot, possibly by soldier
6 March - Philippines
Second journalist in a week narrowly escapes murder attempt
23 February - Philippines
Radio journalist gunned down on Mindanao island
5 January - Philippines
Radio show host comes under fire near his home
3 December - Philippines
Second Radyo Natin presenter gunned down in less than a month

in the annual report
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