Radio anchor shot dead despite gun ban
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - A gunman shot dead a radio anchor Thursday morning, November 8, in Cabanatuan City, where there is a prevailing gun ban.
Killed was Julius Cauzo, 51, a reporter and anchor of local radio dwJJ. Police said Cauzo was driving his motorcycle to his radio office for his 9.30 am show when he was shot thrice at the back by a motorcycle-riding man along Flowerlane St in Baranga Aduas Centro, Cabanatuan City.
A mobile police team in the area failed to catch the fleeing suspect. They brought Cauzo to the nearby Good Samaritan Hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Local police Supt Eli Depra said they have yet to establish the motive for the killing, but Cauzo is known to be critical of graft and corruption in the city.
Cauzo is the fifth member of media killed this year, the 14th under the Aquino administration and the 154th since 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
The police have imposed a gun ban in the city in preparation for a scheduled December 1 local plebiscite on the elevation of Cabanatuan to a highly-urbanized city (HUC). The gun ban took effect last November 5 and will last until December 11.
Cauzo himself tackled issues concerning the plebiscite on his radio show, the police said.
If the yes vote wins on December 1, the city's 216,480 voters won't be casting their votes anymore for candidates in provincial positions, as provided in the Local Government Code.
This will take a large chunk off the voters' population - about half of it - in the province's 3rd district, the power base of re-electionist Gov. Aurelio Umali, who has been opposing the conversion.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has promulgated Resolution 9550, which sets the date and guidelines for the plebiscite.
Cabanatuan, the biggest city in Nueva Ecija in terms of population, has been a component city of the province since 1950. According to the Code, a city can be given an HUC status if it has a population of at least 200,000 as certified by the National Statistics Office, and an income of at least P50 million based on 1991 constant prices. The city council will then have to submit a request to the President to declare their city an HUC.
In 1998, President Fidel Ramos issued a proclamation to make Cabanatuan an HUC, but the voters rejected it. Under President Benigno Aquino III, the city under Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara favors the conversion of Cabanatuan into an HUC, but Governor Umali is opposing it, saying the voters of the entire province should be consulted on the matter, something that the Code doesn't require.
Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation 418 in July this year. City officials say that Cabanatuan City has a population of 259,267, based on the 2007 census, and has an annual regular income of P235 million at 1991 constant prices.
Vergara, who has been pushing his city's conversion, is a classmate and party mate of President Aquino. Umali, on the other hand, is a former Lakas regional leader who only recently joined the ruling Liberal Party. - with reports from Rey Santos/Rappler.com