UNTV confirms crew killed in Maguindanao massacre

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2009 09:43 PM | Updated as of Nov 24 2009 05:43 AM

MANILA - Television station UNTV has confirmed Monday that 4 of their employees were among those who were abducted and killed in election-related violence in Maguindanano, as the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the killings.

Jay Sonza, UNTV station manager, confirmed with ABS-CBN News that 4 of their employees from their General Santos City office were among those killed in the Maguindanao massacre, which left at least 21 people dead.

Sonza said of their 4 personnel, the bodies of Victor Nuñez, UNTV chief of reporters for Region XII, and McDelbert Arriola, cameraman, were identified.

The fates of 2 other UNTV personnel, video editor Jolito Evardo and driver Daniel tiamzon, are still unclear, Sonza said.

"We're shocked and we're sad," Sonza said.

Their last communication with the group was Sunday evening, when Nuñez gave details of their coverage for Monday, according to Bernard Dadis, UNTV news operations manager.

NUJP condemns killings

Meanwhile, the NUJP, in a statement, condemned the killings, saying it is "more troubling" that the alleged abductors were led by a politician and a police officer.

"Taking hostage someone about to file a certificate of candidacy is, by itself, a brazen challenge to efforts to strengthen our admittedly fragile democracy. And, if true that a local government official and a police officer are involved, then it says a lot about how far government has gone to eradicate the warlord politics that continues to reign over many of our provinces, very often the poorest and most underdeveloped," the NUJP statements said.

"But to take hostage journalists who were merely going about their job of informing the public worsens the already heinous crime and elevates it into an assault on the Constitution itself and the freedom of the press and of expression it enshrines, and the people's right to know which these freedoms serve," it said.

The NUJP is demanding that the government and its security forces to "move swiftly resolve this crisis and ensure that no harm befalls the hostages; and, if true that violence has been inflicted on some of the hostages, to ensure swift justice on the perpetrators, no matter who they are."

"Should any harm befall our colleagues, we will hold accountable the civil and security officials of Maguindanao, the ARMM and the national government for their failure to end the culture of violence and warlordism that lays waste not only to those who engage in politics but to innocent victims as well," it added.