Thursday, July 27, 2006

Urgent press advisory -- Mariano case arraignment set on July 28

Tomorrow, July 28, the arraignment for the trial of Roger Mariano murder case will be held at the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 54, Manila City. Coverage requested.

Case Background

Roger Mariano, hard-hitting radio journalist based in Laoag, Ilocos Norte was killed mercilessly on his way home along a desolate national highway after coming from his radio program “Roger Mariano in Action” aired over dzJC Laoag. He was peppered with 16 bullets (9 in the back and 7 in the head) which killed him instantly on July 31, 2004. Mariano left her wife, Alma, and their eight children hurting and agonizing over his death.

Almost four months after his death, two suspects (including SPO4 Apolonio Medrano) were arrested, and the case was filed at Ilocos Norte Regional Trial Court. The family and local journalists learned that the suspect is notoriously known to have strong political links, and has reportedly been utilized as gunman/bagman/middleman of known politicians. Because of this,the Mariano family felt threatened that the suspect, Medrano, might be able to influence the outcome of the trial.

With the fear of case whitewash, the family, with the help of their lawyer, decided to file for a Petition for Change of Venue (of the trial) to Manila, so as to provide us a neutral ground. With the help of endorsement from the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Inc., the petition was granted last April and has been raffled to Branch 54 of the Manila Regional Trial Court. Subsequently, Branch 54 issued a Court Order last July 3, 2006 for the immediate transfer of detention of the two accused to Manila City Jail on or before July 28, 2006. The family, colleagues, friends, and the concerned media organizations are hopeful that we will be able to get the elusive justice for Roger Mariano and score a victory for the country’s battered press freedom.

In view of this, the FFFJ is inviting the both the national and local media to attend the hearings to follow the course of the trial. Continuous coverage and daily news stories on this case from your organization and all the other media entities will help put constant pressure on the government and the justice system to end this culture of impunity.

For details, please contact Nathan: (Tel.) 02-840-0903/02-840-0889

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