Undersecretary Joel Egco. PTFoMS executive director, said they are currently determining whether the murder of Eduardo Dizon, anchor of Brigada News FM station in Kidapawan City, and the strafing last July 4 of the Bombo Radyo station here were linked to the same issue.
"May mainit na issue sa area na yan, at alam nyo na kung ano yan (There's a hot issue in that area and you already know what that is)," he said in an interview over Brigada News FM here.
Egco was apparently referring to the proliferation in the area of various illegal investment schemes, which were tackled almost daily by the concerned radio stations.
These include the "Ponzi-like" investment operations of controversial religious group Kapa Community Ministry International Inc., which was shut down by the government last month on orders from President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Prior to the attacks, personnel from the two radio stations reportedly received threats that were believed triggered by their handling of the issue.
But Egco said he has asked the Philippine National Police, which is part of PTFoMS, to dig deeper into both attacks and identify all those behind them.
In the case of Dizon, he said he already received the initial report from Kidapawan City police investigators.
He said they're also getting some "bits and pieces of information from our friends in the media" that may be used in resolving the case.
Dizon, former station manager of 97.5 Brigada News FM-Kidapawan, was driving home to Tejada Subdivision in Makilala, North Cotabato around 10:35 p.m. when he was gunned down by unidentified assailants along Quezon Boulevard in Kidapawan City.
Egco said he was deeply saddened by the incident, which happened nearly a year after the killing of radio broadcaster Joey Llana in Albay.
As in the other previous cases of media killings, he assured that PTFoMS, which was created through Administrative Order No. 01 issued by Duterte, will not stop "until we get into the bottom of this, identify the motive and the suspects, and file cases against all those involved."
"The Duterte administration is committed to end cases of violence against the media in the country," he said.
The Brigada Group of Companies, which is based in this city, strongly condemned Dizon's killing, which it said happened "in the wake of his relentless expose against unscrupulous individuals and organizations involved in illegal undertakings."
In a statement, the company sees the attack as "an attempt to silence the Brigada media and its news personalities from their exposes and position on prevailing issues."
It said news anchors of Brigada have since taken a moral stance against groups and individuals who are exploiting the public for their own personal gains and might have stepped on the toes of some groups and individuals in the process.
But the company said the incident will not deter them from pursuing their "sacred mission" but will instead provide the strength and determination to serve for the best interest of the public.
"We call on authorities to go deep into this in their investigation, prosecution and eventual punishment of those who are behind the gruesome murder of one of our esteemed news anchor personalities," it added.