SC transfers cases of slain broadcasters

The Visayan Daily Star: ILOILO CITY – The Supreme Court has ordered the transfer of the trials of the murder of broadcasters Herson Hinolan and Rolando Ureta from Aklan to Cebu City in an en banc resolution dated March 18, as requested by media organizations citing security reasons.

The Supreme Court also directed the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court in Kalibo, Aklan to transmit the records of Criminal Cases No. 7457 (Ureta) and 8149 (Hinolan) to Cebu City and for the Executive Judge of the Cebu RTC to raffle the cases, and directed the judges assigned, to hear them “with dispatch.”

The media organizations were informed of the resolution in a letter from Ma. Luisa Villarama, SC Clerk of Court dated March 19.

The victims’ widows welcomed the court order.

“We are thankful because we doubt if we could get justice if the trial is held in Kalibo. It is also safer for us to attend hearings outside of Kalibo,” Aphrodite Hinolan said in a text message.

But Joan Ibutnande, legal counsel of Amador Raz and Jessie Ticar, suspects in Ureta’s murder, said they will file an opposition to the court order, saying the request transfer of venue “has no basis at all, and is based on surmises.”

In a telephone interview, she said, “It is an insinuation that the courts in Aklan cannot handle the case”.

The seven media organizations that asked Chief Justice Reynato Puno for the transfer were the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, Center for Community Journalism and Development, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Philippine News and Philippine Press Institute.

Two motorcycle-riding gunmen shot Ureta dead on January 3, 2001, along the national highway in Barangay Bagtu, Lezo town, Aklan, around seven kilometers west of Kalibo, while he was on his way to his parents’ house.

The victim was program director of radio station dyKR of Radio Mindanao Network and hosted the nightly program “Agong Nightwatch.” He was investigating the proliferation of illegal gambling and drugs in the province when he was killed.

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