by MART D. SAMBALUD
TAGUM CITY—Alarmed by the spate of killings in this city, Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon yesterday put up a P100,000 bounty for the arrest of the killers of radio broadcaster Rogelio “Tata” Butalid, the latest to be felled by assassins’ bullets.
Rellon also ordered the creation of a special task group to expedite the investigation and resolve the killing of Butalid.
The reward money would also be given to those who could provide information leading to the identification and arrest of the suspects who gunned down Butalid which will eventually lead to possible arrest.
Butalid, 44, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men on Wednesday morning after his radio program with station 107.9 Radyo Natin FM.
“I directed Police Superintendent Solomon A. De Castilla to create Task Group Butalid to identify and apprehend the killers. I am willing to finance it and I will not stop unless and until the perpetrators are identified and put behind bars,” Rellon told Davao Today, in an interview yesterday.
“Hugot nako gikondena kini kay tungod dili dapat kini mahitabo sa Tagum hilabi na sa mga media practicioners. Ako personally gapaningkamot na mahimong peaceful ang Tagum kay concern nako ang security and order diria. Pero dili ko musugot na ingon ani ang istilo para mahilum ang media (I strongly condemned the killing because it should not happen in Tagum City, especially to media practitioners. I have personally worked to make Tagum peaceful because I am concerned with peace and order. But I won’t allow that style to silence the media),” Rellon stressed.
On Tuesday, initial police investigation said Butalid was about to ride on his red Honda Wave motorcycle after his morning program when two unidentified men aboard an unmarked blue XRM motorcycle pulled alongside him.
The rider shot him several times hitting him in different parts of his body and he died instantly.
Butalid had discussed on his radio program the management conflict inside the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco).
Tagum’s Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) recovered from the crime scene at corner Sobrecarey and Roxas streets in this city, six empty cartridge cases and one slug believed to be from a caliber .45 pistol.
Witnesses told police that the triggerman was wearing a red bull cap and a brown jacket. As of this posting, De Castilla said that an artist’s sketch was already produced based on the descriptions and accounts by the witnesses, adding that his team was waiting for the computerized composite sketch for a clear visual identification of the suspects.
He said investigators were looking at several angles to the killing, “because of his several involvement with political and civic organizations, including on the Daneco row”.
But De Castilla said they were looking closely at Butalid’s discussion of the Daneco conflict, saying that his radio program “Ang Kamutuoran (The Truth)” was funded by Daneco –National Electrification Administration.
Butalid had been a broadcaster since college and had been employed as information personnel of DANECO-NEA since the rift with the other faction group Daneco-Cooperative Development Authoritiy erupted.
De Castilla told Davao Today that the recent issue aired in Butalid’s program was about Daneco-CDA’s “fake official receipt” which possibly angered or provoked his perpetrators.
He said Butalid had started receiving death threats after he continuously discussed the management row in Daneco. He said Butalid would receive the threats through text messages.
The most recent threat to his life obtained by Davao Today reads: “Brad, maypag inyo nang ihunong inyong mga programa nga mga pagbinotbot sa pagsabwag ug mga impormasyon kay ang akong mga sakop nga 4,981 kabook naga kampi sa DANECO-CDA nga gepanag iyahan sa katawhan, ayaw nag paabuta nga ako na mismo nga commander maoy mangunay ug pamadlong sa mga kalihukan ninyu nga ouno sa pagyatak ug panghuraw. Basig unya ug mahayan ninyo na brad sa tibook ninyong kinabuhi (Brother, it’s better that you stop your program that’s been spreading false information, because there are 4,981 people supporting DANECO-CDA which is owned by the people. Don’t wait until I, a commander, would personally rebuke your actions and threats. You might regret what you did.).”
Teresita Butalid, school principal of Camiling Elementary School in Carmen, Davao del Norte, told this reporter that the untimely death of his husband came as a surprise on Wednesday morning. She said that when the shooting incident happened she was attending a seminar held at Molave Hotel.
“Nakabalo lang ko kay saba naman kaayo sa likod unya ang speaker ni undang ug discuss. Na weirdohan ko kay ang mata sa crowd is naa sa amoang table. Gisultian pa nako akong mga kauban basig saba kaayo among group. Didto nako nakabalo na gisultian ko sa akong supervisor
(I only found out when the crowd behind was noisy and the speaker stopped talking. It was weird when all eyes were on us in our table. I even told my companions maybe we were disturbing others. It was only when the supervisor told me that I found out what happened),”she narrated.
She added that she was aware of the death threats on his husband but they did not discuss it, saying that “dili gusto ni Tata na mabalaka ko personally apil ang mga bata (Tata didn’t want me or my kids to be worried).”
“Wala ni Tata ginapabasa sa ako ang mga texts ug wala pud siya gahatag ug details. Basta musulti lang siya na nay threats sa iya ug ingon pud niya na mulabay ra pud daw na (Tata did not let me read the texts or let me know the details. He just told me he had received threats and he said it would just pass).”
She recounted an incident last year that suspicious motorcycle-riding men were passing through in front of their house at Purok Cabasenas at Barangay Mankilam and men disguised as vendors selling assorted vegetables in the evening.
She believed though, that the killing was related to his job as broadcaster and as a barangay councilor.
a big loss
Tata, as he was called, was a college classmate of Mayor Rellon and a known close political ally who ran but lost as a city councilor in the May 2013 election under Rellon’s party. He was a barangay kagawad-elect in Barangay Mankilam.
“Ang amo lang ginapangayo na unta mahatagan ug hustisya ang iyang pagkamatay. Hinaut unta na madakpan sa awtoridad ang nagpusil sa akong bana (We just want justice for his death. We hope the authorities can arrest those who killed my husband),” she said.
In a statement, the Daneco-NEA condemned the killing of Butalid.
“He is one of our best. He is a very articulate and principled man who is always cheerful amidst pressure. He is not just the loss of his family but also to the barangay folks and media industry. He is a big loss to us,” Daneco-NEA Information Dissemination Department Manager Diona Abaquita told Davao Today in an interview.
Meanwhile, the Davao del Norte Press & Radio-TV Club President Gregonio Ybañez said the killing was “a brutal and inhumane act and a deliberate attack on press freedom”.
The media group has called on police authorities to exhaust all possible means to send the perpetrators behind bars and let justice be served to Butalid’s family. (Mart D. Sambalud, davaotoday.com)Extrajudicial Killings, journalist killings, media killings