This is a press statement by the Mindanao Safety Office of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. My comments in itals follow this
A radio commentator and long-time Philippine Star correspondent in Iligan City was attacked and threatened by three people while anchoring a block-time program paid for by the provincial government of Lanao del Norte.
Lino dela Cruz reported to colleagues in the media that the incident happened at about 12:30 pm yesterday (Mar. 18) while he was on air hosting the radio block-time program Serbisyo sa Katawhan Una sa Tanan (Service to the People First and Foremost) at station dxLS Love Radio Iligan.
Dela Cruz said he was criticizing Casan Maquiling, a former board member of Lanao del Norte and former mayor of the municipality of Munai, when two men and a woman who identified herself as Maquiling’s elder sister accosted him inside the announcer’s booth.
One of the two men grabbed him by the throat and told him to stop making negative commentaries against Maquiling, Dela Cruz said.
Maquiling is running for governorship of Lanao del Norte under the administration (Liberal) party against incumbent governor Khaled Dimaporo.
Dela Cruz, who has only just began to anchor the block-time program, said he had earlier spoken against Maquiling after the latter criticized Abdullah Dimaporo, father of the incumbent governor, for refusing to sign a covenant among local candidates calling for peaceful elections in May.
The elder Dimaporo is running for a congressional seat in the 2nd District of Lanao del Norte.
Dela Cruz disclosed he also discussed on air Maquiling’s alleged support for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) when the latter was still mayor of Munai.
JB R. Deveza/ Coordinator/ NUJP-Mindanao Media Safety Office/ 0999 536 9592
The fact that de la Cruz is a blocktimer does mean he should not be considered a journalist. There are grave ethical concerns over the practice of selling air space to politicians and businesses, who then hire (often times laid-off) broadcasters to “anchor” or act as commentators. It is, of course, direct conflict of interest. It is also brought about by unjust policies by media owners who cut loose employed broadcasters and then offer them the blocktime slots.
It is a terrible practice, yes, but the biggest blame should be placed on owners of these radio stations…. for abandoning their duties to the communities.