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Since 1 January
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Philippines

Apolinario "Polly" Podeba, dwTI-AM
17 May 2003

Podeba was gunned down on the way to the studios of radio dwTI-AM near Lucena, southeast of Manila, on the morning of 17 May 2003 by two men on a motorcycle, who fired seven shots at close range, hitting him in the face, head, neck, back and hands. One of the two killers even got off the motorcycle to fire more shots at him as he lay on the ground. He was taken to Quezon hospital where a forensic doctor declared him dead on arrival.

A former communist guerrilla, Podeba was known for criticising both national and municipal authorities. For the past two years, he and two colleagues had presented a programme called "Nosi ba Lasi" (Who are they?) in which they blamed the mayor of Lucena, Ramon Talaga, for the spread of drugs and gambling in the town. The mayor reacted by closing down the radio station in 2002, forcing it to move outside the city limits.

Joselito "Tito" Ojeda, the chairman of ConAmor Broadcasting, which owns dwTI-AM, said the mayor could be implicated in the murder. The mayor, for his part, blamed the murder on his political rivals who, he said, were trying to harm him by portraying him as the leading suspect. No group has claimed responsibility for the killing.

Lucena police chief Danilo Siongco has been put in charge of the investigation. Two witnesses are reportedly being held in police custody. Podeba’s widow Rowena said her husband had received telephone threats in the past few weeks. She also said she thought a hit man was hired to kill him.