By Ben Serrano
Militant groups in Caraga have called for an immediate independent investigation into the shooting and wounding of a radio broadcaster in Marihatag, Surigao del Sur on Wednesday (July 26).
United Church of Christ in the Philippines Bishop Modesto Villasanta, chair of Karapatan in Surigao del Sur province, said the perpetrators behind the slay try on radioman Julito “Lito Pakapaka” Orillaneda must be brought to justice, highlighting alleged rising cases of extrajudicial killings and abuses under the Duterte administration.
Orillaneda, 35, of dxJB-FM based in Marihatag town was on a motorcycle and on his way home when two gunmen also on a motorcycle followed him and shot him on Wednesday.
The attack took place in front of the victim’s house in Barangay Poblacion around 7:30 p.m.
Orillaneda, owner and operator of the dxJB FM, was known for his stinging commentaries against corruption and abuses , sustained gunshot wounds on his face and body.
Villasanta recalled a convoy of vehicles carrying some 300 indigenous people supposedly to attend People’s SONA in Tandag City last July 17 were allegedly blocked by authorities at joint military and police checkpoints along the way to Tandag City, including two checkpoints in Marihatag.
“Dismayed lumads went to the radio station owned by Orillaneda and tell all in radio interviews what miserably happened to them after soldiers, cops manning the checkpoints allegedly asked many IDs, took pictures at them, lumads having IDs the soldiers dislke were not accepted. Those who forget to bring IDs were questioned one by one, held for questioning for hours,” Bishop Villasanta narrates what happened.
Villasanta claimed as a result because of the many checkpoints, the lumads who left their homes early morning of July 17 on way to Tandag, all of them have not eaten their breakfast and lunch, decided to just returned home.
“They left their respective homes as early as 5 a.m. early morning July 17, at 4 p.m. they were still at the last checkpoint in Marihatag,” Villasanta told Caraga News Courier.
“Along the way after they were interviewed at the radio station DXJB 106.4 FM, a group of allegedly angry soldiers at a checkpoint where they were flagged down allegedly questioned the lumads why they went to the radio station and complained. It seems the authorities were not happy of why they go to a radio station and aired their plight,” Villasanta said.
Villasanta explained the background why the lumads went to the radio station and somehow aired their dismay because checkpoints from towns of Lianga, San Agustin then at Marihatag, two checkpoints each have their travel on way to Tandag City, the province’ capital difficult at times allegedly life threatening.
“It is not that we are accusing the PNP, military in the slay attempt of Mr. Oriilaneda who personally interviewed the dismayed lumads at his station but since the brutal slay try already part of many unsolved attempted killings and EJKs in the province, it is only best for everybody that it must be investigated,” the UCCP bishop added.
There are already seven newsmen in the region who are victims of unsolved slay attempt with some very unfortunate causing their untimely demise.
Villasanta is not alone in asking for independent probe of all unsolved killings in Caraga including slay attempt of Orillaneda, he was joined by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Caraga, Caraga’s lumad progressive group KASALO, Gabriela and Caraga Watch.
Marihatag, Surigao del Sur Mayor Raul Cubil denied rumors he may have something to do with the attack on his critic.
Jerry Campos, Marihatag barangay affairs officer , who serves as the spokesman of the mayor said the allegations were unfounded and baseless and that Cubil welcomed any investigation on his alleged link to the shooting and wounding of Orillaneda.
“Mayor Cubil even instructed the Marihatag police chief to investigate all possible angles of the slay attempt of Orillaneda. The mayor told the police that even if Orillaneda is his media critic it’s ok because those in public office must not be onion-skinned to public criticisms as it is part of being politician who is always accountable to the people it is serving,” Campos told RMN-Butuan.
Campos claimed Orillaneda, according to the feedback of the ambulance driver was already out of danger due his critical gunshot wounds and now recuperating after an operation.
“He was shot four times with four gunshot wounds. He was first brought by our ambulance in Butuan but allegedly hospitals in Butuan turned down confinement. He then was brought to Davao City where he finally get medical treatment and operated. I think he is now out of danger,” Campos said.
“We can’t disclosed his location now or in what hospital he was confined due security reasons as there are reports armed men even up to Davao City are still looking for him probably to finish him,” he added.