Palace condemns slay of Lanao Norte news anchor

MANILA – Malacañang has strongly condemned the killing of Audrey Gaid Estrada, a news anchor for 101.3 Grace Covenant FM, who was stabbed to death inside her home in Poblacion Bacolod, Lanao del Norte on Thursday morning.

Jose Joel Sy Egco. (File photo)

“The government condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of radio broadcaster Audrey Estrada, Undersecretary Jose Joel Sy Egco, Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS), said in a statement Friday.

“We send our deepest condolences to the family, loved ones, and colleagues of Ms. Estrada. Rest assured that this government will not rest until the perpetrator of this heinous crime is brought to justice,” the Palace official added.

Egco said that he is now in close coordination with investigators of the Bacolod Municipal Police Station (MPS) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and its Media Security Vanguard, and has instructed them to thoroughly and swiftly investigate the killing.

Reports submitted to the Task Force by Maj. Mohammad Doro, officer-in-charge of Bacolod MPS, and Master Sgt. Junas Repayo, IOC, revealed that Estrada was already dead when she was found inside her room.

According to the police, the victim incurred a total of 15 stab wounds on different parts of her body leading to her death. A 13-inch long kitchen knife was recovered near the crime scene which investigators believed to be the weapon used in the murder.

The PNP, one of the member agencies composing the PTFoMS, is now conducting follow-up operations to identify and apprehend the suspect. The local government of Bacolod is reported to be offering a reward to anybody who can give information that will lead to the arrest of the suspect.

Egco also said that he has already ordered the local Media Security Vanguard, Lt. Col. Michelle Olaivar, public information officer (PIO) of Police Regional Office (PRO) 10, to directly coordinate with PTFoMS’ Special Agents on the killing.

Based on the evidence so far culled by investigators, Olaivar believes that the incident is not related to the victim’s work as a radio announcer.

Media Security Vanguards are PTFoMS Focal Persons composed of PNP’s Public Information Officers and serve as the “first line of defense” of journalists all over the country as they will be the first to receive and respond to all threats leveled against any media worker.

“We took this initiative for the designation of PNP officers as Media Vanguards as part of our proactive efforts to ensure the safety of media workers, especially during this critical period in Philippine history,” Egco pointed out, adding that “In order to safeguard our much-cherished press freedom, we owe it to the Filipino people to put a stop to all perpetrators of violence against media workers.”

The Philippines is believed to be the first country in the world to establish a government body devoted exclusively to media security.

On October 11, 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte created PTFoMS by virtue of Administrative Order No. 1 to establish an inter-agency task force with the goal of protecting the life, liberty, and security of media workers.

Agencies similar to PTFoMS have now been set up by other countries in the world to protect journalists, according to the 2021-2022 “World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development Global Report” released recently by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (PR)

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