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Radio blocktimer killed in General Santos City

(CMFR/IFEX) - Local police in General Santos City are investigating the killing of a radio blocktimer and columnist at a radio compound on 13 March 2010.

The lifeless body of blocktimer Chito Abuzo was found at around 11:00 p.m. (local time) at a building in the compound of dxGS radio station in General Santos City, a city approximately 1,049 kilometers south of Manila. Abuzo, who is also a columnist for the local tabloid "Sapol" (Hit), had allegedly been beaten to death by four men with a concrete block.

City Police Director Senior Superintendent Marcelo Pintac told the "Philippine Daily Inquirer" newspaper on 15 March that the police were pursuing leads to the whereabouts of four suspects, but refused to identify the suspects. Pintac told the "Inquirer" that the killing might have been motivated by a personal grudge.

In a 16 March interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, "Sapol" and "Mindanao Inquirer" publisher John Paul Jubelag said that based on their investigation, Abuzo and the suspects had an altercation prior to the killing.

Witnesses said the victim fell to the ground after the suspects punched and hit him with a bottle on the head. As he lay on the ground, one of the suspects hit him with a five-kilo concrete block.

Jubelag said the suspect who hit Abuzo with the concrete block was the lover of a certain "Gigi", a blocktimer Abuzo was allegedly courting. "Someone heard 'Gigi' being mentioned during the altercation. There are rumors that Abuzo was pursuing the suspect's lover," Jubelag added.

Rey Remigio, a local journalist in General Santos City, said the local media are still looking into other motives behind the killing.

The suspects remain at large as of press time.

If work-related, Abuzo will be the 115th media worker killed in the line of duty since 1986 and the 77th killed during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The number of work-related killings of journalists and media workers in the Philippines surged in 2009 after 32 journalists and media workers covering the filing of a local politician's Certificate of Candidacy were killed in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, along with the politician's wife, relatives and supporters.

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