Bomb explodes outside radio station

New York, June 7, 2001 – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the bomb attack yesterday on DYHB Radio Station in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, and calls for a prompt and thorough investigation into the incident.

DYHB is known for its hard-hitting reports on local crime and drug syndicates, according to the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). It has also recently broadcast reports on the military’s battle against Abu Sayyaf , an Islamic separatist group that is currently holding 13 Filipino and American hostages. The radio station is part of the Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), which has aired interviews in recent days with Abu Sabaya, the spokesman for the group.

On May 29, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appealed for a news blackout of the military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, claiming that news coverage would embolden the group while the government negotiates for the release of the hostages.

The station manager at DYHB has linked the bombing to the station’s coverage of the Abu Sayyaf hostage crisis, although local journalists believe coverage of crime and corruption could also be a factor, according to CMFR. Local police said the ingredients of the bomb would be available only to bomb experts or the military.

The blast occurred outside DYHB’s offices just after midnight on June 6, injuring two bystanders and one security guard and tearing a three-meter hole in a wall, according to Philippine and international sources.

“We condemn this violent and inhumane attack,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Authorities in the Philippines must thoroughly and swiftly investigate the incident and apprehend those responsible. Journalists cannot work freely in a climate of fear.”

CPJ notes that this attack follows the killings of three journalists in the Philippines within the past ten days.

Radio commentator Candelario Cayona, of DXLL in Zamboanga City, was shot on May 30. CPJ believes Cayona was killed for his journalistic work. Police have now identified and formally charged a suspect as the gunman, although he is still on the run, according to local sources.

Joy Mortel, a reporter for the Mindoro Guardian, was killed in her home in Barangay Talabanhan, Occidental Mindoro on May 31. Chito Acbang, a former radio commentator for the RMN Station in Bongabong Town, Oriental Mindoro, was also found slain in late May. CPJ is investigating the circumstances leading to these two deaths.