DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Authorities are suspecting that a land dispute could be behind the killing of a radio broadcaster who was gunned down by two assailants in a remote village in Tarragona, Davao Oriental Tuesday afternoon.
The victim was identified as Nestor Libaton, who worked for radio station dxHM run by the local Catholic archdiocese.
“Initial investigation showed that the case could be due to a land dispute since the victim was reported to have been involved in a land conflict with some relatives or friends,” said Chief Superintendent Jaime Morente, Southern Mindanao police director.
Morente said Libaton was not a hard-hitting broadcaster, although he added that investigators were not discounting the possibility that the killing could also be work-related.
“In fact, his program was more on religious issues and prices of commodities. He did not hurt anyone in his radio broadcast,” Morente said.
Morente added that Libaton’s attackers did not harm his companion, a certain Eldon Cruz, also a media practitioner.
He said a special task force has been created to look into the Libaton killing.
“I also instructed our investigators in the area to likewise get the statements of the driver of the motorcycle for him to describe the faces of the suspects as they did not cover their faces during the incident,” he added.
Libaton and Cruz had just come from a fiesta celebration in Barangay Ompao, Tarragona town and were on their way back to Mati City aboard a motorcycle last Tuesday afternoon when two men, also riding a motorcycle, tailed them.
The two men reportedly fired shots in the air, prompting Libaton and Cruz to stop. Libaton reportedly alighted from their motorcycle to confront the two but he was shot several times in the face and body.
Juvy Tanio, Mati City information officer and a colleague of Libaton in dxHM, said policemen recovered six empty shells and one live bullet from .45 and .38 calibers at the crime scene.
Mati City Mayor Michelle Rabat said they would exhaust all efforts to bring justice to Libaton’s family.
“First, we are saddened that something like this happened. There might be different circumstances but still a life was taken. Life is at stake and we know that it is sad and we believe that only God has the right for that (to take life). So whoever did this, I hope this person would realize that what he or she committed was a grave sin,” Palma said in an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas.
Palma lamented said Libaton’s death had to happen 12 days before the celebration of the 46th World Communications Sunday.
According to the CBCPNews, Libaton was the third media practitioner killed in the past 15 days. The two others were Rommel Palma who was killed in Koronadal City last April 24, and Michael Calanasan who was slain in Laguna last April 30.
On June 14, 2010, another Mati broadcaster, Desiderio Camangyan, was killed in a fiesta celebration in Manay, Davao Oriental. A certain PO1 Dennis Jess Lumikid was tagged in the slay. – With Evelyn Macairan, Delon Porcalla - By Edith Regalado