Monday, July 03, 2006

Radio station burned down

Here's an urgent alert from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). NUJP is holding a press conference today at 11 am (Newsdesk Cafè, Sct. Madrinan cor. Sct. Tobias, Quezon City) to discuss the recent attack against press freedom in the country.

Community radio station razed down by masked men

Radyo Cagayano, a community radio station based in Baggao, Cagayan (a province more than 320 kms. north of Manila), was totally burned down before dawn of July 1 (Sunday) by eight armed men wearing ski masks.

Reports reaching NUJP said the arsonists entered the compound at around 2 a.m., poured gasoline into the radio transmitter and booth facilities, and set them on fire.

The arsonists reportedly held at gunpoint, blindfolded and hogtied six radio staffers who were at the station compound. They were identified as Susan Mapa, radio station manager, and staff members Erik Ayudan, Arnold Agaraan, Armalyn Badua, Arlyn Areta, and Joy Marcos. They all suffered bruises.

Local organizations condemn the incident as an attacka against press freedom and point to the Army's 17th IB (under the 5th Infantry Division) as the perpetrator.

In 2002, when the station held a ground-breaking ceremony for the newly-constructed building that houses the station facility, the farmer-leaders who came were attacked with bolos after they left the station allegedly by soldiers manning a checkpoint.

Reports say the radio facility is a joint project of the local mayor and local peasant organization called KAGIMUNGAN. The project was initiated in 2002 with government funding facilitated by Bayan Muna. After many delays and harassment, the facility had just started broadcast operations last May.

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