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Cebu News

Outside radio station in broad daylight: Radioman killed by a ‘sniper’?

Iris Hazel M. Mascardo - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  Radio blocktimer Reynante “Rey” Cortes survived the first attempt on his life about 15 years ago.

Not yesterday.

Cortes, 45, was shot dead by yet unidentified assailant/s shortly after coming out of the radio station in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City before 9 a.m. yesterday.

The blocktimer has gained following for his tongue-lashing political and social commentaries in a program over DYRB Radio Pilipinas Cebu called “Engkwentro.” Blocktimers buy air time from radio stations for their own programs and are not station employees.

City Councilor David Tumulak, who hosts the next program after Engkwentro, said Cortes declined to join him for breakfast yesterday because it was also incidentally the birthday of Cortes’ wife.

“Mao to nakalingkod ko (for the program) 8:35 na. Katong nakanaug na siya diri, ang mga tawo diha sa (premises) niingon nga padung na siya mosakay sa iyang sakyanan, gipusil. Ang katong duha nga miduol kay naa untay tuyo niya, wa maigo. Siya ra gyuy naigo,” Tumulak narrated.

After the shooting, the two men who earlier approached Cortes (not the assailant/s) pulled his wounded body to the roadside.

Upon learning of the shooting, Tumulak left his program to go outside. There, he saw Cortes soaked in blood.

“Kay sige siya’g ping-it sa kasakit, ako siyang giignan nga ayaw na’g tingog, ayaw piyonga imong mata. Ginhawa lang kay ipahatod tika didto sa hospital,” said Tumulak.

“Mao to akong driver, gikarga dayon siya para madala sa hospital,” he added.

Cortes was pronounced dead at Cebu City Medical Center.

Based on Tumulak’s assessment, Cortes sustained a gunshot wound on the chest and a broken arm.

Sniper?

Police will launch a special investigation task group to look into Cortes’ shooting, according to Lt. Colonel Wilbert Parilla, CCPO deputy director for operations.

They have also launched Oplan Universe to alert all stations and units to install checkpoints at possible exit points of the perpetrator/s.

The problem, though, is that initial investigation by Mambaling police revealed that witnesses had not seen any attacker/s in the area.

Thus, one of the angles being pursued is the possibility that a sniper may have carried out the attack.

“Kay wala pa gyud tay concrete or bisan initial description sa gunman,” said Police Major Dindo Alaras, chief of Mambaling Police Station. “Wala pa ta’y nakita nga kabhang sa bala kay mao nay apil sa gisubay sa atong mga investigators. Kung asa ta makakita sa mga kabhang sa bala, didto ta mag-start sa direction sa bala.”

Alaras has already directed his men to retrieve copies of CCTV footages that may have captured the incident.

Conflicts

In 2003, an unknown gunman had shot Cortes in Cebu City but he survived the attempt after being hit in his right groin.

According to reports, Cortes was then a blocktimer at radio station dyDD Bantay Radyo (Radio Watch).

Cortes’ escort, who was present during yesterday’s shooting, told police that Cortes has had conflicts with a number of persons.

“Dahan gyud daw ni siyag kontra, according niya (Cortes' escort), pero atong tagsa-tagsaon karon ang pagkuha sa mga detalye aning mga kontra nga iyang pasabot,” said Alaras.

So far, police are eyeing Cortes’ job as commentator and personal grudge as possible motives to the killing. They could not yet establish, though, the number of perpetrators involved.

As part of the investigation, Alaras said they will be reviewing previous broadcasts of Cortes’ program to check names of individuals Cortes had mentioned, whom he might have offended.

15 shootings in July

About an hour after Cortes was killed, another shooting also transpired in Barangay Calamba, bringing the total number of shooting incidents in Cebu City this month to 15 so far.

Police are yet to verify the exact name of the victim in Calamba shooting, who was a woman. However, according to Parilla, the victim has been allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

“According sa iyang mga silingan ug mga kaila nga mamarukay ni (victim), then mahilig sad daw manambling, dili daw mohatag sa mga remit (drug proceeds),” said Parilla.

Cebu City has seen a growing number of women being shot but police said these women were linked to illegal drugs. In the case of Calamba shooting, they see the same motive.

Parilla said police will heighten their patrol and visibility in an effort to curb the rising number of shootings in the city. — JMD (FREEMAN)

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