Herson Hinolan

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Hinolan, station manager and commentator from Bombo Radiyo in Kalibo in the central Aklan Province, was shot in the abdomen and arms outside a Kalibo town carnival, according to news reports. The journalist died two days later.

According to a report in The Straits Times, local police said the murder was likely in reprisal for Hinolan exposés “on illegal gambling, police brutality and corruption by local government executives.”

Hinolan was known as a “hard-hitting commentator,” local Chief Superintendent George Alino told Agence France-Presse. In a statement, Bombo Radyo managers accused “assassins” of “killing the messenger who is tasked to serve the public by way of exposing the truth.” The station offered a reward for any information leading to the identification or capture of those responsible for Hinolan’s murder.

Former Lezo town mayor Alfredo Arcenio went into hiding for a year before surrendering to authorities after being identified by two witnesses as the gunman in the crime, according to reports. Hinolan’s widow, Aphrodite Hinolan, requested that the trial be held outside of Aklan province due to concerns of possible political interference in local courts. In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled to transfer the venue to Cebu City.

Arcenio maintained his innocence during the trial, claiming in court testimony that he was attending a wake at a friend’s home in Lezo town at the time of Hinolan’s killing. His legal defense filed a series of petitions and motions to delay the proceedings, a tactic commonly used by defendants in Philippine murder cases to break the will of prosecutors, family members and witnesses, CPJ research shows.

On August 11, 2016, after eight years of court proceedings, Cebu City’s regional trial court found Arcenio guilty of homicide in Hinolan’s death, news reports said. Presiding judge Sylva Paderanga sentenced Arcenio to eight to 14 years in prison and ordered him to pay 237,500 pesos (US$5,000) in damages to Hinolan’s family. The conviction was handed down despite two of three prosecution witnesses recanting testimony they had earlier given to the court against Arcenio.

The National Union of Journalists, a local press group, welcomed the judgment as a “partial victory” because Arcenio was convicted of the lesser charge of homicide rather than murder. Explaining their decision to convict Arcenio of the lesser charge, the judges ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove the two elements of treachery and premeditation, reports said. NUJP’s statement said that state prosecutors “defied continuous threats and offers of settlement from Arcenio” to achieve the conviction.