By Jeffrey Damicog and Glazyl Masculino
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) has been directed to conduct an investigation over the recent killing of a radio broadcaster in Dumaguete City, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday, May 7.
“I have given instructions to the Presidential Task Force on Media Security to probe this latest incident,” said Guevarra who is the chairman of the PTFoMS.
“If necessary, I will also direct the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) to render assistance to the task force or conduct a parallel investigation,” the Secretary added.
In the meantime, Guevarra said he would let the Philippine National Police (PNP) conduct an investigation on the killing of Cornelio Pepino, a reporter and announcer at DYMD ENERGY 93.7 FM.
“We let the NBI step in whenever the PNP faces a blank wall or when there is reasonable basis to believe that other law enforcers may be involved,” he explained.
The Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office (NORPPO), for their part, has also formed a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) on Wednesday to focus investigate the murder Pepino.
Col. Julian Entoma, Negros Oriental police director, leads the SITG, along with the Dumaguete City Police Station, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), and other units.
Entoma said they have yet to determine the motive behind the killing of Pepino, 48, of Sibulan town, on May 4.
Pepino, a regular news reporter and announcer at DYMD ENERGY 93.7 FM, was killed in an ambush by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen in Barangay Daro while on his way home with his wife who was unharmed in the attack.
The attack happened just two days after the commemoration of World Press Freedom Day, and six months after Dindo Generoso, a block-timer of dyEM 96.7 Bai Radio was also killed in an ambush in Dumaguete City in November 2019.
Police are initially looking at a work-related angle in the killing.
Entoma said the victim has been receiving threats and was even given security personnel before the 2016 elections but Pepino had the security detail stopped because he was not comfortable with it.
“We are not yet sure if it’s work-related or personal because we don’t have evidence and persons of interest,” he said.
He also said that a copy of a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera footage they have obtained cannot identify the faces of the assailants who were wearing face masks.
The management and staff of DYMD, in a statement posted on their official Facebook page, said that they are “saddened and angered by the senseless and brutal killing” of one of their colleagues. They are calling for justice for Pepino’s death, whom they claimed is the fourth media man killed in the city since 2018.
The Dumaguete Press Club, Inc. (DPCI) also mourned the death of one of their colleagues in the media industry and condemned the killing, which they considered as “a dastardly, cowardly, and treacherous piece of execution.”
Ely Dejaresco, DPCI chairman emeritus and founding president, said that “Pepino was killed in line of duty, and could be politically motivated since politics was his favorite topic which might have hit the nerve of some political sectors, or, a reverse psychology could have been used.”
Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Executive Director Undersecretary Joel Egco, in a statement, said he directed the NORPPO and Dumaguete City Police Station to hunt down the suspects.
“As in the past cases we handled, we will leave no stone unturned,” Egco said.
Read more: Radio reporter killed in Dumaguete ambush