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Death penalty awarded to Filipino journalist's killer

A Philippine court has sentenced a man to death for fatally shooting a photojournalist in 2004, officials said on Friday, according to Associated Press (AP). Allan Dizon, 30, a photographer for The Freeman newspaper, died hours after he was shot at close range outside a shopping mall in central Cebu city on Novemver 27, 2004.

JUSTICE WILL BE DONE: Luli Arroyo, daughter of the philippines president, comforts Allan Dizon’s wife Amelita, promising to do what she can to bring justice to the slain photo journalist. (© Cyril Camporedondo/Sun.Star)

Dizon was among more than 70 Philippine journalists killed since 1986. Ten reporters were gunned down last year alone, making the country one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world, according to media watchdogs.

Judge Ireneo Lee Gako Jr. of the Cebu City Regional Trial Court on Thursday found Edgar Belandres guilty of murdering Dizon and sentenced him to death. The judge cited the testimonies of three witnesses who identified Belandres as the gunman. Belandres had pleaded innocent and his lawyers said he would appeal.

"Se�or Sto. Ni�o, salamat! (Thank you)" cried Dizon's widow Amelina after the verdict was read. "I am very happy with the decision� At last justice has been served to Allan," she later told reporters.

According to the Manila Bulletin, Judge Gako himself read the portion of his decision meting out the death penalty to Belandres after his clerk of court had read out the preamble of the ruling. "Wherefore, I found the accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentence him to death," Gako said inside his office that was jampacked with the relatives of the accused and the victim.

Judge Gako said he was unhappy for meting out the capital punishment on the accused. But he said the sentence was forced on him by the pieces of evidence and facts presented to him by the prosecution and defence during the hearings of the case.

The statements of witnesses Epifanio Barcuma, Justiniano Doller, and Alma Maraveles were given weight by Judge Gako in handing out his ruling on the case. All testified that Belandres shot and killed Dizon.

The witnesses said they were 10-15 meters away when Belandres walked to a corner of the car wash shop without a helmet after alighting from a motorcycle and waited in ambush for Dizon. As Dizon arrived at the car wash shop, they said Belandres shot the photojournalist, put his helmet on and proceeded to the motorcycle where a companion waited.

Belandres was arrested in his house in barangay Lorega, Cebu City on December 6, 2004, a day after Dizon was laid to rest and two days after the deadline for Task Force Newsmen 7 to solve the case had lapsed. Police said Belandres was involved in the illegal drugs trade and harbored a grudge against Dizon, who was active in exposing illegal activities in his barangay.

The police believed that Belandres was the same person identified only as "DD" who sent a text message to Dizon before he was killed. DD referred to Dodong Ensong, the nickname of Belandres, police said. Based on the text message, DD asked Dizon to go to the car wash outlet. Belandes denied the charges, claiming he was at his family's meat shop in Lorega at the time.

Date posted: January 20, 2006 Date modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 41