CAGAYAN de Oro Journal – (Oct 16)- Officials of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) yesterday said they would work to have suspects in the Pantoja case tried in Cagayan de Oro even as they expressed fears of another attack on the wounded Iligan broadcaster.
The COPC announced this even as prominent Cagayan de Oro lawyer Frederico Gapuz accepted the task of heading the organization’s legal team formed to help or lead in the prosecution of the suspects.
Whether the COPC legal team would collaborate prosecution efforts or would lead in the prosecution of the suspects would depend on wounded broadcaster Jose “Joe” Pantoja, said Gapuz, a former president of COPC.
The National Bureau investigation (NBI) filed on Tuesday charges against three suspects identified by Pantoja as Ding Galvez, Romeo Vequiso and Romeo Ragasajo.
Broadcaster Philip Kenn Jaudian was tasked by the COPC to lead the group’s independent investigation into the Pantoja case.
COPC president Jerry Orcullo said Pantoja and his family were facing risks in Iligan.
Jaudian claimed that members of Pantoja’s household have reported to have seen suspicious-looking men on motorcycles near the broadcaster’s home even after last week’s attack.
“We have reason to believe that Pantoja and his family are danger. We think it is best that they go back to Cagayan de Oro and that the case is heard here,” said Orcullo.
The COPC also expressed fears that the suspects, who are still at large, would be “silenced.”
“We urge them to surrender. We believe that the suspects are in danger, too,” said Orcullo.
Last week’s attempt on Pantoja’s life is widely perceived to have been an attempt to stop him from going on air with his stinging commentaries on local politics, corruption and organized crime.
Jaudian said the suspects are all identified with a politician who Pantoja criticized on air.
Pantoja, according to Jaudian, told him the attempt on his life was related to politics and that the attack was masterminded by an influential person.
Pantoja had just brought a child to school and was having a document photocopied when armed men shot him two Mondays ago in downtown Iligan. His intestines and liver were hit by bullets. (Gold Star Daily)