AMARC deplores the burning down of Community Radio Station dwRC 90.1 FM Radyo Cagayano in the Philippines
Kathmandu, July 6, 2006 The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) condemns the burning down of Radio Cagayano dwRC 90.1 FM in the Cagayan province of the Philippines. Speaking at a press conference in Quezon City, Ms. Bianca Miglioretto, Vice President of the Women’s International Network and Board Member AMARC Asia Pacific expressed grave concern over the incident. “Community radio is one way of giving a voice to the voiceless. If this voice is taken away by burning the people’s community radio station, it is a grave violation of their right to communicate,” she said. “We will start a campaign of protest to pressure the Philippine government to give justice to the people of Radyo Cagayano,” she added.
On July 2, 2006 about 2 o’clock in the morning eight men wearing ski-masks and armed burnt down the radio station using gasoline (petrol) in big bottled water containers which they poured over the equipment and the structure before setting it afire. The arsonists, some of them wearing combat boots, military type fatigues and divers’ watch often used by the Philippine military were also armed with M-16 armalite assault rifles and 45 caliber handguns. They used ropes to hogtie the victims and articles of clothing to gag them. The radio station employees suspect the perpetrators to be members of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. The 17th IB is headquartered near the incident site with the 5th ID is station at Gamu, Isabela Province.
The building was totally razed to the ground, including all the pieces of equipment therein. The black draft created by the flames also severely injured Joy Marcos, a staff of the station, on his face, and Arlyn Arella and Armalyn Baddua, also staffs of the station, on their feet and legs. Another staff Richard Ayudad was bruised on his neck where the perpetrators poked it with a handgun. The arsonists also took all of their mobile phone units.
The incidents of attack over free media in the Philippines have grown dramatically over the past few years, especially since Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became President in February 2001. Since then 42 journalists have been murdered, which amounts to 80 the number of journalists killed after the fall of dictator Ferdinand Marcos (1986). AMARC calls upon the President and the Government of the Philippines to put an end over the oppression of freedom of expression in that country with immediate effect. AMARC also calls upon the government of the Philippines to reimburse the losses suffered by Radio Cagayano due to the attack and bring to justice the arsonists.
For more information, please go to www.asiapacific.amarc.org or contact: Suman Basnet, Regional Coordinator AMARC Asia Pacific, Kathmandu, Nepal. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org