The mayor of Lal-lo town in Cagayan has filed libel charges against a radio anchor for the latter’s allegedly “deliberate and malicious” comments over a radio station in Tuguegarao City.
Mayor Florante Pascual accused Rogelio Sending Jr., radio anchor and assistant station manager of dzGR Bombo Radyo, of imputingon him the crime of kidnapping in a Jan. 18 broadcast.
Sending, however, dismissed the charges as plain harassment.
“This is a clear case of harassment to stop me in my anti-mining stand and advocacy. Truth will prevail,” he said.
The mayor’s charges stemmed from a broadcast aired in Sending’s “Bombohanay Big Time”, which supposedly linked local employees of the town government of Lal-lo to the abduction of a leader of one of the groups opposing black sand mining operations in the province.
“Isa pang residente dyan na dumalo sa FAMAC meeting of Federation of Anti-mining Advocates of Cagayan pwersahang kinuha ng ilang mga indibidwal na nauugnay sa lokal na pamahalaan ng Lal-lo (One resident who attended a FAMAC meeting was abducted by certain individuals linked to the local government of Lal-lo),” Sending was quoted in his broadcast as saying.
In an undated complaint-affidavit filed before the provincial prosecutor’s office in Aparri town, Pascual said he felt alluded to in Sending’s commentary because he is the town’s chief executive.
“Considering my pro-stance in (sic) responsible mining, (Sending’s)deliberate and malicious remarks is (sic) intended to induce the listeners of his program that I am doing or will do everything, whether legal or not, just for mining activities to go on in Lal-lo and in the province of Cagayan and would be willing to silence those who go against it by any means,” he said.
Local officials in Cagayan led by Governor Alvaro Antonio have been criticized by residents and media for allowing the allegedly “illegal” extraction of magnetite sand from the northern beaches of Cagayan, and along rivers there.
In Lal-lo, Chinese firm San You Philippines Mining Trade Ltd. operates a magnetite separation facility in Catayauan village that processes sand collected from the Cagayan River in what officials claimed were part of dredging operations.
In an interview, Pascual said that while Sending did not directly mention him in his commentary, it implied that he ordered the alleged abduction because the people implicated were under his office (“tao ko”).
To back up his charges, Pascual used a sworn statement, also undated, issued by Ophelia Marallag, Cagayan information officer, who claimed that a radio interview “would imply that (Sending) was sticking on (sic) his accusation”. (Or baka may kulang lang dito kanina at di ko nakuha ang context?)
Sought for comment, Sending, however, said he never accused any one of kidnapping.“It was not true that I apologized to the mayor because I have always stood by what I had said, including that interview with (Parallag),” he said.
According to Sending, his commentary was based on a Jan. 19 incident when he covered a prayer rally against black sand mining held at the Saint Dominic De Guzman church in Lal-lo, which was led by Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg.
He said a leader of a farmers’ group, Isabelo Adviento, reported to him that one of their officers, Renato Dela Cruz, had not showed up hours after he was seen leaving the venue with an employee of the town government.
This prompted FAMAC officers to have the matter recorded in the police blotter, Sending said.
The next day, it turned out that the farmer leader was told not to get involved in the rally and just leave. The town employee, identified as Felix Soria, supposedly accompanied him home to Barangay Bangag, the radio anchor said.
Rowena C. Paraan
IFJ-NUJP Media Safety Office
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