CMFR/Philippines— A radio broadcaster is in critical condition after being shot near a shopping mall in General Santos City, South Cotabato on 4 August 2008, at around 4:30 (local time).
A gunman riding pillion on a motorcycle shot Dennis Cuesta of dxMD-Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) in General Santos along a national highway in a crowded area near a shopping mall. Cuesta, who is now confined in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, had just come from an RMN promotional program. Police said Cuesta was shot five times with a .45 caliber pistol. Cuesta is 38 and has seven children.
Dodong Solis, RMN assistant area manager for Mindanao believes that the assassin was a hired killer.
“The killing was very professional, ” Solis said.
Colleagues believe that the attempted murder is related to his work as a journalist.
Solis said that barely a month before the incident, Cuesta had addressed in his radio program Sumbong at Aksiyon (Grievance Desk) a complaint submitted by an individual whose village water supply was contaminated. Cuesta received a phone call from the secretary of the association believed to be behind the contamination angrily reprimanding him for his report. Solis said that the City Health Council investigated the association as a result of Cuesta’s report.
Alex Joson, RMN station manager for General Santos, said that after Cuesta’s report about the water contamination, the latter began receiving death threats while suspicious individuals were seen roaming the vicinity of the station.
Solis also said that Cuesta had been advised by his wife to resign from his job as radio broadcaster or to request reassignment, which Cuesta rejected.
Cuesta sustained wounds in the head and near the spinal column. The attending doctor said that should Cuesta survive, half of his body would be paralyzed.
“That incidents like this could happen in broad daylight is a painful reality here. This is very saddening,” Solis said.
“I hope incidents like this will make the government work further in ensuring that we could safely practice,” Solis added.
Seventy journalists/ media practitioners have been killed in the line of duty since 1986 in the Philippines. Five out of the 70 were killed in General Santos.