A MOTORCYCLE-riding gunman shot dead the circulation manager of the General Santos City newspaper Brigada News last November 11, adding yet another name to the growing list of victims of media murders in the country.
The murder of Alfredo Velarde Jr. comes less than two weeks before journalists all over the world commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the November 23, 2009 Maguindanao Massacre. November 23 has also been declared by international media groups as the International Day Against Impunity.
An alert issued by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), a regional network of media organizations, stated that Velarde was shot at 3:45 in the afternoon in front of the compound of his newspaper in General Santos City. Incidentally, the General Santos media community also suffered the most number of casualties in the 2009 Maguindanao Massacre.
Velarde and a companion were waiting for the security guard to open the gates to the newspaper’s compound when the gunman approached and fired at Velarde. The arrival of the suspect was recorded by a close circuit television camera. Unfortunately, police say they may have problems identifying the gunman because his face was covered.
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility quoted the station manager of the newspaper’s radio partner as saying that Velarde was involved in a dispute with local tabloid dealers. Velarde was also allegedly being sued by two teenagers for frustrated murder, the CMFR reported.