BUKIDNON, Philippines – Tension gripped a town in Bukidnon after a mayor ordered a radio station to close down and then led a group in seizing its transmitter and other equipment on Friday, February 11.
Mayor Melino Buro of Damulog town said the radio station, Big FM, was operating illegally and defied several executive orders (EOs) he issued in January.
Buro led a group in seizing Big FM’s equipment on Friday, but tension started when the brother of Ric John Rom, one of the owners, arrived and confronted authorities.
A video that went viral showed Rom’s brother nearly ramming through the mayor’s group with his vehicle. The furious man stepped down, yelling and accusing the mayor of not following due process.
Buro is seeking reelection, while Rom is running for town councilor as an independent candidate.
The radio station has been critical of the mayor.
Buro said the radio station has been operating in the town without a permit, hence, he issued EOs on January 14 and January 31.
First, Buro ordered the radio station’s temporary closure for failing to submit the documents required of it by the town hall, with a warning that its equipment would be confiscated if it defied.
Buro then issued a third EO on January 31, ordering the radio station to stop its operations within five days.
Rom told Radyo Ukay-Valencia that the seizure of his radio station’s equipment was questionable, saying the mayor did not have a court order and abused his authority.
He threatened to sue Buro and his group.
The radio station is an affiliate of the Amapola Broadcasting System that has applied for a certificate of public convenience and a provisional authority from the National Telecommunications Administration (NTC).
“I am just waiting for the NTC’s decision, which is likely to come out soon. But now, Buro took away my broadcast equipment,” Rom said. – Rappler.com
Grace Cantal-Albasin is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.