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Witness in killing of journalist shot dead in Philippines; journalists mauled, threatened at gun point

Unidentified men shot dead an eye witness in the killing of a journalist in Digos City in 2010 on 31 July 2014 in Davao City. Meanwhile, a policeman and two others allegedly mauled a camera man and threatened other journalists in a Karaoke bar in Agusan del Sur on 2 August 2014.

Davao City in Mindanao Island is approximately 1,400 kilometers south of Metro Manila.

Three still unidentified men shot Ritchie Manapol, one of the three witnesses in the 2010 murder of journalist Nestor Bedolido in Davao City.

According to the police, Manapol was watching a billiards game in Matina village when three armed men attacked him. Manapol managed to run but was cornered by the gunmen.

The suspects escaped on a motorcycle after the incident.

CMFR reported in October 2010 that the alleged gunman in Bedolido's murder surrendered to the police and said in a sworn statement that then Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas and then Matanao town mayor Butch Fernandez coerced him to kill Bedolido.

A report from News Desk Asia on 1 August 2014 said that Bedolido's wife, Rose, received a text message saying that Manapol broke from the Department of Justice's Witness Protection Program (WPP) a week before he was killed.

The Matina police told CMFR that they have yet to identify the men behind the killing of the witness but the investigation is ongoing.

Meanwhile, in Agusan del Sur province, Police Officer 1 Suharto Dimakuta Salacop and his brothers Michael and Joey allegedly mauled PTV-8 camera man Clemente Aroy and threatened Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Chris Panganiban and other journalists at gunpoint in a Karaoke bar in San Francisco town.

Agusan del Sur in Mindanao Island is approximately 1,200 kilometers south of Metro Manila.

Panganiban told CMFR that they were drinking at the Karaoke bar after a journalism workshop when the incident happened. Panganiban said that Aroy asked one of the singers to allow one of their companions to sing on the stage, which the Salacop brothers might have had taken badly.

The Salacop brothers then dragged the cameraman to a corner and mauled him, Panganiban said.

Panganiban and other journalists tried to stop the beating, but Suharto allegedly threatened them with his service firearm.

Panganiban also told CMFR that in an interview aired on local television, the brothers' lawyer claimed that it was not Suharto who pointed the gun at the journalists but his younger brother Joey, and that the .45 caliber pistol was just a toy gun.

Three days later, Senator Bam Aquino called for a swift investigation and punishment of those responsible.

A senate press release on 5 August quoted Aquino, "We strongly condemn this incident. This is unacceptable; policemen should be the ones protecting members of the fourth estate from threats they receive in their performance of duty."

Panganiban and four others filed a formal complaint for serious physical injuries and grave threat against the Salacop brothers at the Provincial Fiscal Office of Agusan del Sur on 8 August 2014.

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