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Bomb blast rocks radio station; media workers attacked

(CMFR/IFEX) - A radio station in Titay, Zamboanga Sibugay, was bombed on 5 April 2010, leaving one injured. Local reports indicated the attack to be politically-motivated and work-related as the station owner is a government official and the freelancers' commentaries over the station were aggressively against his political rivals. The town of Titay is approximately 765.5 kilometers from Manila.

Two men riding in tandem on a yellow motorcycle were reported to have hurled either an improvised bomb or a fragmentation grenade in front of radio station Magic 103 FM around 6:45 p.m.

Magic 103 FM is owned by Zamboanga Sibugay Gov. George Hofer, who is running for mayor of Ipil town, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Local reports also quoted station manager Kim Poras as saying they have been receiving threats due to their commentaries about Hofer's political rivals.

The police have yet to identify the perpetrators of the bombing.

Gov. Hofer is running against incumbent Mayor Eldwin Alibutan. Hofer's daughter, Ann, is running for governor while his son, Jet, is running for a position in the Congress. Both are running against members of the Jalosjos family.

Prior to this, attacks against media workers also took place in a nearby province in Mindanao.

On 19 March, two unidentified men on a motorcycle assaulted a radio reporter in Valencia City, Bukidnon, leaving the journalist and his companion injured. Valencia City is approximately 869.15 kilometers from Manila.

Arthur Sapanghari Jr., dxDB Radyo Bandilyo reporter, was driving his motorcycle along Purok 8 in Sinayawan, Valencia City, from a local festival when two men knocked his bike down and struck him and his cousin who was riding with him.

The police have yet to identify Sapanghari's attackers.

Sapanghari told CMFR in a phone interview that he suspects the assault to be work-related. He had been following up a story on public complaints against a piggery owner. Because of his reports, local authorities had the piggery closed down.

A few days after the incident, Sapanghari filed a report with the Valencia City police and went back to work. He has also removed stickers on his motorcycle identifying him as a media worker. "After the massacre in Maguindanao, it's no longer people who're afraid of the media. It's the media who're afraid of people," he said.

In a separate development, election-related violence claimed the life of a former freelance radio reporter on 14 April in Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental. Initial police reports indicated the killing to be election-related. Ozamis City is approximately 782.87 kilometers from Manila.

Edwin Sigue, a councilor of Barangay San Antonio who used to sideline as a radio reporter, was driving his jeepney along Don Anselmo Bernard Avenue in Barangay Catadman-Manabay, downtown Ozamis City around 4:00 p.m. (local time) when he was shot by one of two unidentified men riding in tandem on a motorcycle.

Sigue's colleagues from the local media ruled out the possibility that the attack was work-related. Nep Batolenio, anchorman of dxDD and local vice-chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), told the CMFR on 15 April that Sigue seldom reported on controversial issues, making it unlikely that he was gunned down in connection with his work as a sometime broadcaster.

Local reports also said that before he was shot, several people had already approached Sigue to withdraw his support from a certain candidate running for vice governor, for whom he allegedly worked as a part-time coordinator. The police have yet to identify the gunmen.

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