Radio stations shuttered

New York, June 14, 2004–Two provincial radio stations run by the private network Bombo Radyo were ordered closed by the local mayor’s office on June 10 because of alleged permit violations, according to local news reports.

Mayor Caesar Dy ordered the police to close the stations, DZNC and DWIT, located in Cauayan City, Isabela Province, on the northern island of Luzon, because they had allegedly failed to submit the required documents for renewing their business license and commercial zoning clearance. Charmy Sabigan, station manager of DZNC, told CPJ today that the stations had submitted the proper documentation on time.

Local authorities have shuttered the stations several times this year. DZNC and DWIT were closed on May 9, on the eve of the Philippines elections by the national Commission on Elections, known as Comelec. (Comelec has the authority to rule on stations’ closure during the elections period.) After protests from Bombo Radyo directors, Comelec reversed its order, and the stations reopened on May 17.

On Feb. 17, the Cauayan City government, led by Mayor Dy, ordered the police to close the stations. On March 23, Comelec authorized the stations to reopen. However, the police closed the stations again hours later. The stations were reopened on March 30.

Bombo Radyo is known for its pointed political coverage and has been critical of Mayor Dy and other members of the Dy family, which is a powerful political dynasty in Isabela Province. Local journalists and press freedom organizations have condemned the closures as harassment and said they were politically motivated.

Sabigan told CPJ that Bombo Radyo officials had applied in May for a court injunction blocking the mayor’s office from issuing another closure order. The petition is still pending in the local Appeals Court, Sabigan said.

Local authorities also closed Bombo Radyo stations in Luzon in February 2002 because of alleged business violations, according to CPJ research.