Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Journalists call for speedy solution of colleague’s murder

By Niña Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 13:47:00 01/18/2011

Filed Under: Media, Media killings, Crime and Law and Justice

MANILA, Philippines – The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Tuesday appealed to President Aquino and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima for a speedy and impartial resolution of the killing of a media practitioner whose alleged killer has tagged two provincial officials as the masterminds.

Lawyer Adel Tamano, counsel of the NUJP and the son of slain journalist Nestor Bedolido, said the killing was “a rare case” because the evidence pointing to the alleged masterminds, Gov. Douglas Cagas of Davao del Sur and Matanao Mayor Butch Fernandez was clear.

“In most killings of journalists, there are no witnesses and, hence, it is very difficult for the cases to move forward. However, in this case the killer has turned himself over to the police, executed an affidavit admitting his guilt and has explicitly stated that Governor Gacas ordered the killing,” Tamano said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

Last October, the main suspect, Voltaire Mirafuentes, made a confession and named Cagas and Fernandez as the brains behind the killing.

Bedolido, a writer of a local weekly newspaper and once an editor of the Digos Times owned by the Cagas, was shot dead in Digos City in June last year.

Tamano said Bedolido was a "PR man" of Cagas but had a falling out with him before working for his rival, former Davao del Sur Rep. Claude Bautista.

“The Aquino administration, through Secretary De lima must quickly and impartially to resolve the case. This is one of the rare instances when there is strong evidence to bring criminal charges against the killers of a media man,” Tamano said.

In light of the fact that the killing involves an incumbent governor, the case will be a litmus test of the Aquino administration's commitment to address the spate of media killings, he added.

On Monday, Tamano filed a pleading with the Department of Justice disputing Cagas' counter-affidavit containing his defense alibi.

According to Cagas' counter-affidavit, the governor was attending a Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) seminar for lawyers in Manila on the date when he allegedly ordered the gunman to kill Bedolido.

“In Criminal law, alibi is viewed as a weak defense,” Tamano said, stressing that governors such as Cagas are exempted from attending these seminars.

“He has not proven that it was physically impossible for him to be in Davao to talk to the gunman and order him to kill Bedolido in the morning of June 19, 2010,” he said.

Tamano, a senatorial candidate in the last elections, took over the case before the Christmas break last December.

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