‘We’ll get Sumera killers’

P-Noy says cops pur­su­ing slay sus­pects

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - By Nor­man Bor­dadora, Kristine Felisse Man­gu­nay andNikko Di­zon

PRES­I­DENT Aquino yes­ter­day as­sured the pub­lic that the Thurs­day killing of pub­lic ser­vice broad­caster Mar­lina Flores-Sumera would soon be solved.

The Pres­i­dent said he had re­ceived re­ports that the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Po­lice Of­fice had iden­ti­fied and were in pur­suit of the killer. ( See re­lated story on Page A13.)

“Given that, [and with] the co­op­er­a­tion of wit­nesses, I am con­fi­dent that we will be able to bring this per­pe­tra­tor to jus­tice,” Mr. Aquino told re­porters af­ter speak­ing be­fore the Fed­er­a­tion of Filipino-Chinese Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try Inc.

In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Jesse Ro­bredo called a meet­ing at the Na­tional Po­lice Com­mis­sion in Makati City hours af­ter Sumera, 45, was shot dead and killed a few me­ters from her house in Mal­abon

City on Thurs­day morn­ing.

Ro­bredo or­dered Supt. Danilo Ca­batu, deputy chief of po­lice of Mal­abon, to im­me­di­ately work on the case.

“The sec­re­tary said the case must be pri­or­i­tized,” said Se­nior Supt. Cor­ne­lio Bar­rios, Mal­abon chief of po­lice.

Ro­bredo called the meet­ing fol­low­ing a visit on Thurs­day af­ter­noon by mem­bers of Silo­nian Home­own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, who per­son­ally re­ported to him the killing of Sumera, their pres­i­dent.

Mr. Aquino told re­porters he had re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that Sumera was killed in con­nec­tion with a prop­erty dis­pute.

“My un­der­stand­ing is that [she was killed] not be­cause she was [a mem­ber of the] me­dia but pri­mar­ily be­cause of a land is­sue. It ap­peared from yes­ter­day’s in­for­ma­tion that she was up against a pro­fes­sional squat­ting syn­di­cate,” he said.

More dif­fi­cult to solve

Speak­ing with re­porters, Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Leila de Lima ad­mit­ted that the gov­ern­ment was fac­ing some dif­fi­culty in solv­ing the mur­ders of jour­nal­ists be­cause the mo­tives for the killings might not be re­lated to their work.

“We can ad­mit to a cer­tain ex­tent that we are hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time with the me­dia killings. But of course we have to dis­pute any­body who says that we are not do­ing any­thing be­cause we are do­ing some­thing about it,” she said.

De Lima said it was for this rea­son that the killing of Sumera was im­me­di­ately re­ferred for in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice’s task force on ex­trale­gal and me­dia killings headed by Jus­tice Un­der­sec­re­tary Fran­cisco Baraan III.

De Lima said that com­pared to the mur­ders of left­ist ac­tivists, it was more dif­fi­cult to solve me­dia killings be­cause of the var­i­ous mo­tives that could range from po­lit­i­cal to per­sonal or work-re­lated.

She noted that the mo­tives for a num­ber of me­dia killings had turned out to be per­sonal.

“But what­ever is the mo­tive, it’s still killing. And when you tar­get a me­dia per­son­al­ity, that is re­ally bad for any so­ci­ety [be­cause] that is killing the mes­sen­ger,” De Lima said.

6 years to the day

In a state­ment yes­ter­day, the New York-based Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists (CPJ) crit­i­cized Mr. Aquino’s sup­posed fail­ure to pur­sue jus­tice for the slain jour­nal­ists.

CPJ also noted that the killing of Sumera oc­curred on the sixth an­niver­sary of the mur­der of jour­nal­ist Mar­lene Esperat, who was shot dead in front of her chil­dren in their home in Sul­tan Ku­darat on March 24, 2005.

“Six years to the day af­ter Mar­lene Gar­cia-Esperat was shot and killed, ... Sumera’s death serves as a tragic re­minder that Philip­pine jour­nal­ists are still at risk, and that Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino is fail­ing to push for jus­tice for their slain col­leagues,” CPJ Asia pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor Bob Di­etz said in a state­ment.

“Manila po­lice must im­me­di­ately re­spond to this mur­der and in­ves­ti­gate whether Sumera was killed for her work. But be­yond that, it is Aquino’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­verse the en­trenched cli­mate of im­punity which al­lows these mur­ders to con­tinue,” Di­etz said.

The Philip­pines is third on CPJ’s im­punity in­dex in 2010, “mak­ing it one of the worst na­tions in the world in com­bat­ing deadly anti-press vi­o­lence.” (CPJ’s state­ment ex­plained that its in­dex cal­cu­lated un­solved jour­nal­ist mur­ders as a per­cent­age of a coun­try’s pop­u­la­tion.)

In a state­ment, the mil­i­tant Bagong Alyansang Mak­abayan (Bayan) called on Pres­i­dent Aquino and po­lice authorities to “im­me­di­ately re­solve” the case, say­ing that the “grue­some crime” was a “a cur­tail­ment of press free­dom.”

“We de­mand that P-Noy ... swiftly serve jus­tice… and let the per­pe­tra­tors and mas­ter­minds be put be­hind bars,” said Paulo Quiza, Bayan-Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion spokesper­son.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Union of Jour­nal­ists of the Philip­pines, Sumera was the fourth jour­nal­ist to be killed un­der the Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion and the 143rd since the dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos was ousted in 1986.

Land dis­pute

Ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed that Sumera’s killing was not work-re­lated be­cause she is not known to be a hard-hit­ting ra­dio com­men­ta­tor.

In an in­ter­view with the INQUIRER, Chief Supt. Edgardo Ladao, di­rec­tor of the North­ern Po­lice District, said the for­mat of Sumera’s pro­gram was “purely for pub­lic ser­vice.”

Thus, Ladao said, she could not have stepped on pow­er­ful toes.

Po­lice have sug­gested land dis­pute as a pos­si­ble an­gle, con­sid­er­ing that Sumera was work­ing for the “re­block­ing and chop­ping” of a 4.2-hectare prop­erty to give way to a Na­tional Hous­ing Au­thor­ity pro­ject, which was ve­he­mently op­posed by mem­bers of an­other home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion.

Kapit­ba­hayang Sama­han sa Maysilo (Kasama), led by Emma Nuqui, has in­sisted that the land was owned by Paulino Lazaro. But Sumera’s group, to­gether with mem­bers of Barangay Maysilo Neigh­bor­hood As­so­ci­a­tion and Sitio Rosal Neigh­bor­hood As­so­ci­a­tion, be­lieves that the prop­erty is owned by the gov­ern­ment.

On Mon­day, a tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der (TRO) filed by Kasama against the road­widen­ing pro­ject was de­nied by the Mal­abon Re­gional Trial Court.

It was the sec­ond TRO that the group had filed. The first was filed in De­cem­ber 2010 and was quickly de­nied by the court.

An in­junc­tion hear­ing is set on April 4.

Dante Flores, vice pres­i­dent of Silo­nian Home­own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, told the INQUIRER that the re­sults of Mon­day’s hear­ing could have had some­thing to do with Sumera’s killing. He noted that the killing oc­curred only days af­ter the court dis­missed Kasama’s pe­ti­tion for a sec­ond TRO. He said po­lice should not dis­count this in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Death threats

Flores said he him­self had been re­ceiv­ing death threats. He said that right af­ter Sumera’s killing, talk of him be­ing the next tar­get was rife in the area.

“I have re­layed this to District Di­rec­tor Ladao,” he said.

Asked to com­ment, Ladao said he would in­struct the Mal­abon po­lice to pro­vide Flores tem­po­rary se­cu­rity.

He said wit­nesses would be in­vited to pro­vide de­scrip­tions of two of the four sus­pected killers.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, a team led by Insp. Ge­orge Gu­batan, chief of the Sta­tion In­ves­ti­ga­tion Divi­sion of the Mal­abon po­lice, scouted the dis­puted area and listed the names of 29 fam­i­lies to be af­fected by the road­widen­ing pro­ject.

Gu­batan said the list would help in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the case.

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