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A Killing Puzzle: The Life and Death of a Radio Commentator

28 November 2008 No Comment

Garrido added that she never personally listened to his broadcasts and was not angry with him. “There was nothing to get angry about. I never get angry,” she said.

Asked if she thought anybody in City Hall had a serious enough grudge against Padrigao to kill him, she replied no.

“I can’t imagine anybody being involved.”

Instead Garrido suggested Padrigao could have been killed because of his involvement in illegal logging. She said: “There were no big problems with drugs or gambling in Gingoog City, just illegal logging.”

The city administrator went on to say that mayor Guingona has been “aggressively targeting the illegal loggers and went out at nights to catch them,” but in doing so she was attacked by Padrigao in his radio broadcasts.

“I believe that Mr. Padrigao should not have been critical of the mayor since she is the one against illegal logging.”

For their part, family and friends insist that Padrigao’s involvement in the logging business was wholly legitimate: contracts were arranged and won fairly and that their only other interest was in working so called “dry logs” or dead and fallen trees which are deemed unprotected and public property.

Clearly agitated and impatient to leave the city that was once her home, Mrs. Padrigao refused to say who she thought was responsible for her husband’s shooting. She also denied having publicly accused Gingoog vice mayor Marlon Kho for being behind her husband’s killing when he spoke to her by cell phone to offer his condolences at the hospital as Padrigao was being certified dead by doctors.

“I have witnesses that she did,” the vice mayor, a local businessman, told these writers outside his villa. He politely refused to answer any questions except to confirm he had filed a case against Mrs. Padrigao and to deny categorically that he had anything to do with the killing. “I will make a statement in due course,” he said. “But not right now.”

Kho also said he condemned the killing of Padrigao but had “no idea” who might have been responsible. “Right now we have convened the peace and order council of the city and the province, and we are discussing a proposal to give additional funds to the police this coming Wednesday.”

Back at the police station, an entry in the police blotter seen by the Project reports an alleged death threat made to a colleague of Padrigao who has a show Monday mornings in Radyo Natin.

The threat via phone was reportedly made to Manuel Ansiangan, 28, just a few hours after the death of Padrigao was publicly announced. Ansiangan, like other block-timers working there, gives his number out live on air to solicit feedback and stories.

“The caller said he will wipe us all out. He said I was the devil,” said Ansiangan.

The journalist also claims a friend in the intelligence section of Gingoog police force subsequently called him late last week and warned him not to go home after a helmeted man on a black motorbike was spotted waiting outside his boarding house.

Ansiangan says he destroyed the SIM card that would have shown the number of the caller.

Asked whether he is concerned about the future security of his station, manager Pahunang says yes. At the same time, he doesn’t want his block-timers to tone down either their language or their vitriolic campaigns against Gingoog City Hall and the illegal loggers. “I tell them to keep it hot,” he laughs.

For his part, the city’s police chief thinks the threats to Ansiangan are not serious and are unconnected to the killing of Padrigao.

Perhaps only time will tell. As city administrator Garrido said, while the mayor intends investing more funds and energy into “intelligence matters” to help combat a sense of increasing impunity here, “even she cannot promise there will be no more killings”. Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project

(Alan Davis is Project Director of the Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project and Ma. Cecilia L. Rodriguez is a journalist based in Cagayan de Oro City).

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