by Julius D. Mariveles
A RADIO BROADCASTER in Kalibo town, Aklan province has sought protection from police after receiving a series of threatening text messages that he claimed could be related to a series of exposes he made against the mayor.
Jodel Rentillo, station manager of Radyo Todo FM based in the capital town of Aklan, said the threats came after he started discussing in his radio program the alleged misuse of funds by Kalibo Mayor William Lachica.
“I was threatened almost every day since late last February when I started taking up the issues against Mayor Lachica,” he said in the vernacular.
Rentillo, who had been working as a broadcaster for 17 years and hosts the morning primetime program Todo Birada, said this was the first time that he took the threats against him seriously after he was told in the text messages to “have a coffin measured for him” and to stop broadcasting the allegations against the local chief executive.
“Punduha eon ing naubra ngarun hay bsi kumalat ing otak na sa suba ni Beltran,” one of the messages read. (Stop what you are doing or your brains will scatter on the river behind Beltran building)
Radyo Todo’s has its broadcast studio in the Beltran building in Aklan.
Aside from the threatening text messages, Rentillo said there was another incident this month when a male employee of the town shouted at him and his wife, Norly, as they rode past the town plaza on a motorcycle.
“He shouted ‘madakpan ka man gihapon ni Mayor’,” Rentillo said. (Mayor will catch you anyway)
Norly recognized the man as an employee of the local government but they do not know his name.
Mayor Lachica denied the allegations against him and told the PCIJ to look, instead, “into the personality” of Rentillo.
“Listen to his broadcasts, the way he talks, he makes it sound as if he is the only person doing good things,” Lachica said. Lachica would not comment, however, when asked about the alleged threats against Rentillo.
“I cannot say something about it but I have no record here, you ask people in town,” he told the PCIJ in a telephone interview.
Lachica also said some politicians out to destroy him could be behind Rentillo.
Aklan provincial police chief Senior Supt. John Nacion has already ordered deputy provincial director Supt. John Jomil Trio and the intelligence division to investigate the incident, Rentillo said.
He has also reported the incident to the safety office of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
Sonny Fernandez, a national director of the NUJP, said his group will be in close contact with Rentillo to make sure that nothing happens to him. Fernandez said it was unfortunate that journalists like Rentillo who expose anomalies in government have to fear for their lives.
“In his previous program, Rentillo aired concerns over alleged missing vehicles and other equipment purchased by the LGU, as well as supposed payment of salaries to ghost employees,” Fernandez said. “The NUJP decries this effort to stifle critical media and (will) hold those perpetrators accountable if anything happens to our colleague.”