DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 26, 2007) – Police are still facing a blank wall in the killing of a Filipino broadcaster in Davao City in Mindanao.
Two motorcycle gunmen killed Ferdinand Lintuan as he was driving his car on December 24 in downtown Davao. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell heavily on the vigilante group called the Davao Death Squad.
The group was believed behind hundreds of extra-judicial killings the past years in Davao City.
Most of its victims were suspected criminals and thieves, but relatives and families of those killed have accused policemen as behind the Davao Death Squad.
Philippine police chief, Director General Avelino Razon Jr. has ordered an investigation into the killings blamed to the Davao Death Squad.
But television giant GMA-7 reported on Wednesday that police authorities in Davao City belied the existence of the Davao Death Squad.
It quoted police regional spokesman Chief Inspector Querubin Manalang Jr. that most of the killings in Davao City were perpetrated by feuding gang members.
Police gave no details about its investigation into the killing, but Lintuan’s murder was not the first in Davao City. Several journalists had been murdered in the past in Davao and among them were Ed Palomares, Cezar Magalang, Narciso Balani, Rogie Zagado in 1987 and Juan Pala Jr., in 2003.
Lintuan’s relatives and journalists also wanted an independent probe into the killing and for the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila to send a team to Davao City and handle the case instead pf the local police.
“It’s difficult for the Davao police to handle the case. It’s better if the NBI in Manila take the case and ensure a credible investigation and punish those whoever is behind the killing,” one journalist said.
Just this month, a freelance journalist, Romelito Oval Jr., was also killed and his body buried in a shallow grave on a remote village in Butuan City in southern Philippines.
In October, a Filipino broadcaster, Jose Pantoja, was shot and seriously wounded in front of the Mindanao State University in Iligan City. The attacker fled after the shooting.
In August, unidentified gunman also shot and wounded another broadcaster, Manuel Kong, of the radio station dxSN, in Surigao City.
Five journalists had been killed and two others wounded in separate attacks in the Philippines since early this year, according to the National Union of Journalists.
The Philippines is branded as one of the most dangerous place for journalists because of unresolved killings. Dozens of journalists were killed the past years and most of the cases remain unresolved.
More than 900 people, among them political activists, have been killed and hundreds are still missing since President Gloria Arroyo took office in 2001, according to the United Methodist News Service. (Mindanao Examiner)