Mayor threatened slain Bislig journo, says task force on media security

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The profile picture of murdered broadcaster Christopher Lozada from his Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The Presidential Task Force on Media Security said it had written Bislig City Mayor Librado Navarro against threatening Prime Broadcasting Network anchorman and general manager Christopher Lozada but the warning came too late.

Lozada, 29, was shot dead Tuesday night, in Purok 5, Barangay Coleta in Bislig. His partner, Honey Faith Tuyco Indog, was wounded.

A day after Lozada’s murder, the PTFoMS said in a statement that the broadcaster had filed a complaint about the death threats, prompting the task force to write Navarro “to desist from threatening Christopher Lozada” and warn that, “in case any untoward incident happens to him, we will include you (the mayor) as possible perpetrator of the same.”

However, the “red-flag” letter was issued October 24, the same day Lozada was killed.

“Sadly, Lozada was killed even before the letter-warning could reach the mayor,” the PTFoMS said.

Navarro has denied any involvement in the killing.

The PTFoMS said Lozada claimed Navarro texted him “to leave Bislig if you do not want to die” and that “he would step down with Lozada who will go to the cemetery since his days are numbered.”

“Lozada further suspected that Navarro wanted him killed because the Office of the Ombudsman ordered his removal as mayor based on the complaint for grave misconduct he filed against the latter,” it added.

The Office of the Ombudsman ordered Navarro dismissed last month.

The day before he was killed, PNA learned that Lozada went to the Department of the Interior and Local Government to press the agency to immediately serve the dismissal order on the mayor.

The PTFoMS said it had offered Lozada a security detail but the broadcaster decline, saying he just wanted to document the threats against him. He refused similar offers from the local police and the military, the task force said.

Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, the PTFoMS executive director, said he has already directed Superintendent Eder Collantes of Task Force Usig and the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management to immediately investigate Lozada’s killing.

“We will take active participation in the filing of case against the perpetrators of his murder, furnishing the police and the prosecutors’ office, all documentary evidence we have collated. The PTFoMS will keep a close watch and strictly monitor the progress of this investigation and even provide legal assistance, if necessary,” it said.