20 May 2003


Lucena broadcaster killed

Incident details

Apolinario "Polly" Pobeda


(CMFR/IFEX) - Two men on a motorcycle shot and killed a radio broadcaster on 17 May 2003 in Lucena City, Quezon province, south of Manila. The murder happened less than three weeks after a similar tandem gunned down another broadcaster in Legazpi City, Albay.

Apolinario "Polly" Pobeda, aged 35, an announcer on local radio station DWTI-AM, was on his way to the station at around 5:45 a.m. (local time) when two men on a black motorcycle stopped him. The unknown assailants, who were waiting for the broadcaster in the area, shot Pobeda several times. Reports quoted local police as saying that one of the suspects even got off the motorcycle and shot the broadcaster at close range.

The Manila newspaper "Today" said Pobeda "sustained seven gunshot wounds, one in the head and six in different parts of his body."

Pobeda was one of three hosts of the radio programme "Nosi Ba Lasi" ("Who Are They?"). According to "Today", the announcer started hosting the programme two years ago. Two other broadcasters, including a former town councillor, joined Pobeda as programme co-hosts in 2002.

The "Philippine Daily Inquirer" quoted Pobeda's wife, Rowena Morales, as saying the "victim had been receiving death threats for some time now."

"Today" also quoted Morales as saying that the most recent death threat against Pobeda "was just a month ago," and "a gunman [had been] hired at P200,000 [approx. US$3850] to kill Pobeda."

"I warned him to ... lie low for a while but he just ignored my pleas. [He said] there was nothing personal in what he had been doing [and that it] was just part of his job," the "Inquirer" quoted Morales as saying.

Pobeda "was declared dead at Lucena's Quezon Memorial Hospital," the "Inquirer" reported.

The motive for the killing is unknown. However, several possible motives have been suggested, including one linking Lucena City Mayor Ramon Talaga, Jr. in Pobeda's murder.

News reports said Pobeda regularly criticised city government officials, including Talaga, in his radio commentaries. The "Inquirer" said Pobeda "had been accusing Talaga of alleged corruption and involvement in the illegal drug trade."

Talaga, in the same "Inquirer" article, denied any involvement in Pobeda's murder.

"For the past two years, my family had been Polly's target of so many defamatory tirades and blind items. But we maintained our cool because we understood the dynamics of the local media. Polly served as a very willing pawn of my political detractors," the "Inquirer" quoted Talaga as saying.

Joselito Ojeda, owner of ConAmor Broadcasting System, which operates radio stations DWTI-AM and DWKI-FM and Channel 8 television station, was quoted by "Today" as saying Talaga "has been resenting the constant sniping against him" in Pobeda's programme.

"Today" said ConAmor, "whose broadcasters are critical of Quezon governor Willie Enverga and Talaga, has been the subject of harassment by the local government."

On 4 October 2002, Ojeda accused Talaga of "harassment and political vendetta" in connection with the closure of the company's radio and television stations by the city government (see IFEX alert of 18 November 2002). ConAmor later continued operations but moved its facilities outside the city proper.

The victim also allegedly criticised the communist rebel group New People's Army (NPA) several times in his programme. But the NPA, the "Inquirer" said, has denied allegations linking the group to the announcer's murder.

"His tirades against the revolutionary movement had nothing to do with us. I don't even know the guy," Gregorio Rosal was quoted as saying. Rosal is the spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The NPA is the armed wing of the CPP.

Pobeda's killing occurred after a radio announcer was also killed in Legazpi City, Albay province on 28 April. DZGB-AM broadcaster John Belen Villanueva Jr. was on his way home from his station on his motorcycle at around 7:00 a.m. when two armed men aboard another motorcycle shot him (see IFEX alert of 30 April 2003).

Pobeda was the 38th journalist to be killed in the line of duty since 1986, according to the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc. (FFFJ)

The FFFJ was recently organised to address the numerous attacks against journalists and news organisations around the country. It is made up of media non-governmental organisations, including CMFR, and concerned individuals.


Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
2/F Ateneo Professional Schools - Salcedo
130 H.V. dela Costa St., Salcedo Village
Makati City 1227
staff (@) cmfr-phil.org
Fax:+632 8400889

IFEX members working in this country 1

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