|Female broadcaster slain|
|Written by Niña Calleja, Philippine Daily Inquirer|
|Friday, 25 March 2011 09:13|
A lone gunman shot and killed a radio news anchor with a single bullet fired to the back of the head. He then picked up the spent shell and walked away calmly, police said.
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Marlina “Len” Flores-Sumera, 45, of radio station dzME’s “Arangkada 1530,” was killed a few meters away from her home on Silonian Street at Barangay Maysilo in Malabon City as she was about to board a jeepney on her way to work Thursday morning.
Supt. Rio Gatacillo, Northern Police District public information chief, said the bullet entered Sumera’s nape and exited through her eye.
The gunman was a professional hired killer who left no important clues at the crime scene. Even the empty slug of an unknown pistol was picked up by the gunman, Gatacillo said.
The assailant also took Sumera’s mobile phone and handbag to make it look like a robbery, the officer said.
Sumera was pronounced dead on arrival at Valenzuela General Hospital.
She was the fourth journalist to be killed under the Aquino administration and the 143rd since the ouster of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
Rowena Paraan, the union’s secretary general, said the attack on Sumera was unusual, pointing out that she was only the sixth female journalist to be murdered.
According to police, there were three accomplices: one was a lookout while the two others—a man and a woman—were on a motorcycle.
Police said the group watched Sumera leave her house. “When the gunman saw the opportunity, he stopped behind the victim, and quickly fired his gun,” Gatacillo said.
The assailant casually walked away and later flagged down a jeepney to escape while the two on a motorcycle followed.
“At least two witnesses saw the faces of the gunman and his cohorts. Eventually, we will release the sketches of the suspects,” Gatacillo said.
A group named Special Task Force Sumera was formed by the Northern Police District to investigate the case.
In a phone interview, Ed Sarto, a partner of the victim in the radio program scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to noon, said: “Until now, I still could not believe (Sumera) is dead. I was just texting her this morning excusing myself from the show because I had to attend a forum.”
It was odd that Sumera did not send him a reply, Sarto said.
He said Sumera was not a hard-hitting journalist so it came as a shock that she would be killed because of the job.
Sarto described his partner as soft-spoken, unlike other radio commentators who are normally hard-hitting.
“Last time, when we failed to get the side of a government official, she only said on air that her only request to the official’s secretaries when their bosses were not around was to take note of the public’s complaints,” Sarto said.
The killing of Sumera, a public service anchor since the early 1990s, could be related to her work as a journalist, Sarto said.
Sarto said Sumera had been tackling in her radio program a land dispute in her neighborhood in Maysilo where she was also the homeowners’ association president.
A portion of land in Maysilo reportedly owned by the government was to be allotted for a road-widening project.
Gatacillo said police were attempting to verify the information. “There are a lot of angles. But one that we are looking into is her association’s row with three other groups in Maysilo.”
He said a temporary restraining order on the road project filed on Monday by a rival group may have aggravated the dispute.
“We are still not sure about the details. By tomorrow, we may have a detailed report on that,” Gatacillo said.
Sumera worked for dzXL and dzAR as a public service anchor before she joined dzMe last December. She leaves behind three children, the youngest, a 6-year-old girl.
Media and rights groups say the Philippines is one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists. They say a culture of impunity pervades the country, where powerful figures often act above the law and firearms proliferate.
Most infamously, 30 journalists were among 57 people murdered in the southern Philippines in 2009, allegedly by members of a powerful Muslim clan who wanted to eliminate a rival in politics.
On Jan. 24, a gunman shot and killed broadcaster and environmental crusader Gerardo Ortega in a shop in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan province. Several officials were among those charged in the killing believed to be a result of Ortega’s exposés on the misuse of Malampaya funds. He was the third journalist killed under the Aquino administration. With reports from Tina G. Santos and Agence France-Presse
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