CMFR/PHILIPPINES –A gunman shot and killed a peace advocate and anchor for a block time program on 21 January 2009 in Cotabato City . Cotabato City is approximately 699 nautical miles (1295 kms) from Manila .
Badrodin Abas was driving his family’s passenger multi-cab along Quezon Avenue corner Jacinto Street in Cotabato City at around 9 p.m. when two men onboard a motorcycle blocked his way. One of the men shot him in the head. Abas was hosting a block time program at the radio station dxCM – Radyo Ukay aired every Thursday.
The program Abas hosted was funded by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), a network of Moro civil society organizations in Mindanao . Abas was the deputy secretary of the regional management committee of CBCS in Cotabato City, and also vice president of CBCS member United Youth for Peace and Development (UNYPAD).
Block timing is a practice in the Philippine provinces where “blocks” of radio time are bought by individuals or groups for their program, which they then offer for sponsorship.
Although the police have yet to conclude their investigation, Cotabato City police chief Senior Supt. Willie Dangane told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) in a phone interview that the killers mistook Abas for his younger brother.
“It was a case of mistaken identity. His younger brother has the same profile (body type) as Badrodin,” Dangane said in Filipino, adding that Abas’s younger brother usually drives the multi-cab Abas was driving.
Dangane was quoted in a GMANews.TV report as saying that the police are investigating reports that Abas’s brother was involved in a love triangle. Police said the younger brother had been receiving threats prior to the incident.
Dangane dismissed the possibility that Abas was killed because of his work as a block time announcer. “He is not a regular member of the tri-media here,” Dangane told CMFR.
Bobby Taguntong, an anchor at dxCM – Radyo Ukay, told CMFR that he and his colleagues have not heard of any problem or threat connected with Abas’s radio program. But he said Abas and his partner Bobby Benito usually discuss issues involving the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the situation of evacuees in Mindanao .
Rahib Kudto, chair of the CBCS regional management committee in Cotabato City and also chair of UNYPAD, called on the authorities to look for the perpetrators so that the real motive behind the killing could be established. “We are waiting for (the result of the) police (investigation) ,” he told CMFR.
Police have yet to interview the brother of Abas, Dangane said. GMANews.TV reported that the police are looking at a video of the shooting caught on a closed circuit TV camera.
According to Kudto, Abas previously worked for the local unit of the Department of Agriculture in Pikit, North Cotabato before joining the peace organizations. His hosting of CBCS’s block time program, Kudto said, is his first work in the media. Abas was not accredited by the Kapisanan ng Broadkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP, Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines ).
Seventy-seven journalists/ media practitioners have been killed in the line of duty since the restoration of democracy in 1986. In 2008, six journalists/ media practitioners were killed because of their work.
Since 1986, 10 journalists have been killed in Region XII (SoCCSKSarGen) , which registered the most number of work-related killings along with Region III (Central Luzon). If killed in the line of duty, Abas would be the 11th killed in Region XII and the 78th killed in the Philippines since 1986. Most of the cases are unsolved.
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