Digos Radiomans Murder: Curiouser and Curiouser

Sep. 09, 2006

Armando PaceTwo months after the fatal shooting of Armando Pace, a hard-hitting radio commentator in Digos City, the case remains in limbo.

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DIGOS CITY He was called the Jun Pala of Digos, a fire-breathing broadcaster who earned another moniker, Rakman, because of the sheer firepower (rak-rak!) of his radio commentaries.

He feared nobody and never hesitated attacking anybody, even sometimes on a personal level. Armando Pace, the 55-year-old broadcaster from AM station DXDS-Radyo Ukay in this city, certainly made many enemies. And just like Pala, he was felled, on July 18, by an assassins bullet. He was said to be the first radioman in Digos to have been murdered.

The radio booth Pace used to occupy, shown here with a colleague of the victim's. (davaotoday.com photo by Germelina Lacorte)And almost two months after his murder, Paces friends and relatives are still despairing over the failure by the police to bring the killers and the masterminds to justice.

“We just have to wait who will be the next one to fall, and not wait anymore for any solution to the killing,” said Raul Antopuesto, the station manager of DXGO, a radio station in Davao City where Pace — and Pala — used to work.

For Nelson Caete, an officer of the National Union of Journalists (NUJP) Davao Chapter and himself a radio commentator, expecting any results from the authorities on Paces murder now borders on being pointless.

“Just like what happened to Jun Pala, where until now justice is still elusive, and so with (MindaNews photojournalist) Gene Boyd Lumawag, who was slain in Jolo,” Caete said.

Pace had been a journalist since the latter part of the 80s. When Pala was killed in 2003, one of Paces daughter told him to go slow with his on-air commentaries. But the man was irrepressible.

Marlan Malnegro, Paces colleague at DXDS, described Pace as hard-hitting, someone who would mock his subjects on the air, humiliate them with his laughter and background sounds and music. But unlike Pala, Marlnegro said, Pace never mentioned names in his commentaries.

The DXDS station compound in Digos. (davaotoday.com photo by Germelina Lacorte)“He mentioned no names. But the concerned would certainly get the feeling that they are the ones being hit in his commentaries,” Malnegro said.

“You! Satan has been waiting for you!” Pace would howl on the air, Malnegro told davaotoday.com. Pace would punctuate his vitriol with a devilish laughter.

Malnegro said Pace was the kind who talked about anything. He would talk about specific issues like corruption but he would also delve into the personal faults of his subjects.

“Aside from corruption, he talked about personal issues, something that would really hurt and bruise the ego of his nameless subjects, Malnegro recalled.

Three months prior to the killing, Pace received death threats in his cellphone. Since then, Pace stopped using his cellphone, Malnegro said.

Malnegro recalled asking Pace who his enemies were but Pace would reply in jest that he had no enemies. Still, Pace had expressed his intention to own a gun. “But he never was able to purchase one. I don’t know why,” Malnegro said.

Pace also had more than a hundred libel cases, Malnegro said. But instead of dampening his enthusiasm, Pace took pride in them, he said. Most of these cases Malnegro said, had been dismissed, with only a few left. Pace, however, had mended relations with some of those who filed the cases.

Malnegro also said that Pace maintained good relations with politicians in Digos. In fact, he added, the mayor of Digos put him on the citys payroll as a casual employee.

Paces murder had taken some twists and turns. Although the police had proclaimed the case solved three days after the murder, developments point to the contrary.

The polices regional spokesman, Belaflor Causing, had said that they have arrested the triggerman, identified as one Tungol Antecamara, whom a witness was able to finger. The witness was said to be just 10 meters away when Pace was shot.

But a radioman from Digos City, Nilo Cobrado, reported over Bombo Radyo in Davao City in July that Antecamara was, in fact, an informant of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

Police, meanwhile, had earlier said that a certain Jesus Saraum drove the motorcycle that was used by the killers. Malnegro, Paces colleague at DXDS, claimed that the victim once told him he was being followed by men on a motorcycle with plates MO 237 the same motorbike Saraum allegedly drove.

But Saraum was released two days after the murder, according to news reports.

Then last Aug. 24, the case took another turn. A man wearing a hood, who identified himself only as MG Pedro SSG, came out on the Davao news program GMA Testigo and revealed that Pace was murdered on orders of two mayors in Davao Del Sur: Mayor Antonio Rasonable of Padada town and Jose Superales of Hagonoy town.

Pedro said the case would be solved once it is established who among the two mayors are a former police who also handled death squads.

He also said that the supposed trigger in police custody Tungol Antecamara is a fall guy.

Antecamara had been charged with murder. He had been scheduled for arraignment last Sept. 5 but this was postponed. His lawyer, Luciano Cameros, said his client might turn state witness.

In the same news program, Rasonable denied that he ordered Pace killed. Why me? Whats their basis for saying that? They should have me investigated in the proper forum, he told GMA Testigo.

He said they were close friends and that he even stood as godfather to Paces daughter. Pace was also from Padada town.

Rasonable admitted that when he used to be in the police service, he killed many. But those, he said, were carnappers and Pace was no carnapper.

Superales, on the other hand, said he believed the accusation against him was just part of the intrigue against him, especially since he once filed a libel case against Pace. “This is all political intrigue,” Superales told the TV program. (Cheryll D. Fiel/davaotoday.com)

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