Thu, Nov 18, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Police arrest co-officer for killing of journalist

AFP , MANILA

A senior police officer has been arrested for the July killing of a radio broadcaster, among 10 journalists to have been murdered in the Philippines this year, police said yesterday.

Senior police officer Apolonio Medrano was arrested on Tuesday and is the main suspect for the July 30 shooting of DZJC radio broadcaster Roger Mariano, national police chief Edgardo Aglipay said.

Mariano was ambushed near the northern town of San Nicolas. The motive for the attack was not known and prompted an angry response from media rights groups

Mariano had been highly critical of local politicians in the north whom he had accused of protecting gambling syndicates.

The 10th journalist to be killed in the Philippines, Herson Hinolan, died in hospital late on Monday after being blasted in the stomach and arms while in the bathroom of a store late on Saturday, said Ernie Zamboang, chief of reporters of Bombo Radyo in the central town of Kalibo.

The motive for the murder of Hinolan, who was also a station manager, remains unknown but Zamboang said it could be linked to "the many issues he tackled on his radio program before the incident."

The hard-hitting commentator is the 59th journalist to be killed in the Philippines since democracy was restored in 1986.

Gene Boyd Lumawag, photographer for a southern Philippines-based news agency, was shot dead on the southern island of Jolo last week.

Press groups have criticized the spate of attacks on local journalists and the government's reaction to the cases.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said this week that no one had been convicted for any of this year's killings despite the government's promises to pursue the cases.

"In many instances, agents of the government [policemen, soldiers, etc.] are the prime suspects in these murders," the group said, warning that press freedom and democratic values were being undermined by the killings.

President Gloria Arroyo expressed her condolences for Hinolan's death.

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