MANILA – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) is coordinating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to effect the immediate arrest of Dante Tabosares, the alleged mastermind in the killing of Brigada News FM anchor Eduardo Dizon in July last year.

This, after Presiding Judge Henelinda Molina-Diaz of Kidapawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61 ordered the arrest of Tabosares, alias Bong Encarnacion, under Criminal Case 5281-2019.

The warrant was issued on January 15, 2020 and a copy of which was transmitted to the PTFoMS Secretariat in Malacañang.

“Tabosares tried to further delay the issuance of a warrant for his arrest with his pleadings before the court. Delays are expected but, ultimately, justice will prevail. Again, I commend the Task Force for closely monitoring and responding, not only in this case but for each case of media violence in its inventory,” said PTFoMS co-chair and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin M. Andanar.

For his part, PTFoMS Executive Director and Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco welcomed this "battle won" in the quest for justice.

“Tabosares will be dealt with in accordance with our laws. The issuance of a warrant for his arrest is proof of the independence and competence of the judiciary. The wheels of justice maybe slow but it is turning. All of the accused will be accorded due process,” Egco said.

On Sept. 30, 2019, Diaz also issued a warrant of arrest warrant for Junell Poten, alias Junell Gerozaga, and Sotero Jacolbe Jr., alias Jun Jacolbe, in connection with the murder charges filed against them by the Kidapawan City Prosecutor’s Office.

Jacolbe immediately surrendered to authorities, while Poten remains at large and is currently being tracked down by police operatives.

Meanwhile, Andanar said the arrest of Tabosares is a testament to the commitment of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte to upholding justice for all victims of violence against media workers.

In the High-Level Segment of the 43rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held in Geneva, Switzerland on February 25-26, 2020, Andanar stressed that the Philippines has always valued press freedom and human rights.

“Protecting freedom of the press and other fundamental freedoms will remain at the heart of the Duterte administration’s agenda. With the gains made by the PTFoMS last year after the guilty verdict for the suspects of the Ampatuan massacre case, the Task Force continues to strengthen its mechanism in collaboration with media organizations," he told members of the council.

Andanar said the PTFoMS is also working with Congress on a law that would improve the working conditions and wages of journalists to enhance the environment for a free, empowered and productive Philippine media.

“Thus, the allegations of restrictions of media space in the Philippines will not find an anchor in such a landscape that is driven by a vision to address impunity, preserve press freedom, and promote the welfare of media workers,” he added.

Dizon was killed in an ambush on the night of July 10, 2019 just after his radio program. He was a former news anchor of Brigada News-Kidapawan City until 2018 and ran for councilor in the municipality of Makilala, North Cotabato in 2019 but lost.

The PTFoMS relentlessly pursues and keeps track of all cases of media violence and has since provided the public updates as often as necessary. (PR)