Global Journalist

Philippines

Cop acquitted in five-year murder trial of radio anchor

After a lengthy, five-year trial, the police officer responsible for killing Philippine radio anchor, Fernando “Dong” Batul, was acquitted by Palawan Regional Trial Court Judge Bienvenido Blancaflor. Batul was shot six times in the chest while driving to work on May 22, 2006, by a man riding a motorcycle, who witnesses later identified as Aaron Golifardo, a former police officer.

“We thought we had a strong case against Golifardo. It was disappointing that the judge did not appreciate the testimony of our four eyewitnesses who were able to identify him (Golifardo) in open court,” said prosecution lawyer Joselito Alisuag according to an Inquirer.net report.

Batul’s work as a radio commentator at DYPR in Puerto Princessa had also met violent threats before his murder. On May 15, 2006, two unexploded grenades were found in his yard with a warning message about his controversial commentary and included a threat to his family.

“Even though there has been a 'not guilty' verdict, this journalist's murder case remains very much open, and the impunity with which journalists are being killed in the Philippines remains a matter of national shame,” Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator, said. “It is up to the country's police and courts to address Batul's death and the deaths of so many others in the country that have gone unpunished.” Dietz said.

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