Bislig mayor’s threats to murdered broadcaster bared

MANILA — The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) on Wednesday bared that Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro had allegedly sent death threats to Prime Broadcasting Network anchorman and general manager Christopher Lozada prior to his death.

In a statement, the PTFoMS said that Lozada had filed a complaint with the Task Force regarding the death threats, which forced the PTFoMS to send a warning to Navarro to stop threatening Lozada.

The strongly-worded letter to Navarro issued on October 24 warned the mayor “to desist from threatening Christopher Lozada” and stating, “in case any untoward incident happens to him, we will include you (the mayor) as possible perpetrator of the same.”

The media task force issued the red-flag letter warning in response to the complaint filed by Lozada with the PTFoMS alleging that his life was being threatened by the mayor.

The Task Force said that according to Lozada’s complaint, the Mayor texted him “to leave Bislig if you do not want to die” and that “he would step down with Lozada who will go to the cemetery since his days are numbered.”

“Lozada further suspected that Navarro wanted him killed because the Office of the Ombudsman ordered his removal as mayor based on the complaint for grave misconduct he filed against the latter,” the Task Force statement said.

“Sadly, Lozada was killed even before the letter-warning could reach the mayor,” the PTFoMS said.

Navarro has denied any involvement in the killing.

The 29-year old radio broadcaster was killed at around 9 p.m. Tuesday in Purok 5, Barangay Coleta, Bislig City, Surigao Del Sur after unidentified men opened fire at his vehicle.

His companion, Honey Faith TuycoIndog, was injured in the incident.

The broadcaster has earlier refused PTFoMS’ offer of a security detail, saying he just wanted to document the threats against him so that in case he is harmed, the Task Force could run after the mayor.

Upon advice from the Task Force, Lozada has submitted a complaint form with several attachments, primarily the mayor’s threats against him, to the Task Force.

The murdered broadcaster was further advised to be extra careful in his travels and movements, especially since he refused to avail of a security detail either from the Philippine National Police (PNP) or the military.

It was also learned that Lozada went to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) the day before he was killed to press the agency to immediately serve the dismissal order, which sources say triggered the ambush.

The PTFoMS strongly condemned the killing of Lozada and vowed to actively pursue the case against the perpetrators.

“The PTFoMS condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of Christopher Lozada. As a matter of policy, PTFoMS presumes Lozada’s death as a media killing and falls under its mandate in relation to Administrative Order No. 1 (AO1) of President Rodrigo RoaDuterte to protect the life, liberty, and security of media workers,” the Task Force said.

Upon instructions from Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Co-Chair of PTFoMS, Executive Director USec. Jose Joel Sy Egco has already directed Police Supt. Eder Collantes of Task Force Usig of the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) of the PNP to immediately investigate the killing and update the media task force of their investigation.

“We will take active participation in the filing of case against the perpetrators of his murder, furnishing the police and the prosecutors’ office, all documentary evidence we have collated. The PTFoMS will keep a close watch and strictly monitor the progress of this investigation and even provide legal assistance, if necessary,” the Task Force said.

“We seek justice no less for Mr. Lozada,” the PTFoMS said.