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Philippines

Blaze at Catholic radio station 'arson'

Bishop says fire that destroyed DZVT on Mindoro was deliberate

Madonna Virola, Calapan City

Madonna Virola, Calapan City

Published: October 26, 2011 09:35 AM GMT
Blaze at Catholic radio station 'arson'

A fire that destroyed Catholic radio station DZVT and the records section of the chancery's finance office in Labangan, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro early today was arson, according to the local bishop. "It was deliberate," Bishop Antonio Palang of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose, which owns the station, alleged. He said the attack, at about 1am [5pm GMT yesterday] by unidentified men, was timed for when several members of the clergy were out of the province attending various events. Someone tried to set the station on fire on October 21, but employees were able to contain the blaze, which damaged the building housing the station's generator and part of the finance office, he said. Despite the area being on a heighten state of alert, today’s alleged attack saw the whole building and its transmitter burned down, and a section of the finance office. DZVT’s live streaming online was also cut. No injuries were reported, but Program Manager Daisy Leano estimated the damage could exceed 10 million pesos (around US$230,000). The destroyed radio transmitter was built with donations from the San Francisco archdiocese in California and other foreign donors. Police have yet to identify any suspects or motive behind the attack. However, a radio report said police initially suspected the communist-led New People’s Army (NPA) could be responsible. However, DZVT officials and Bishop Palang refute this. Station manager Lito Vallador said the NPA had contacted a station worker to deny involvement in the attack. Vallador said the station’s FM and AM services broadcast a variety of programs centered on implementing "Church teachings," including commentaries speaking out about social concerns. The station claims at least a million listeners on Mindoro Island and in eight neighboring provinces. Bishop Palang said it could take many months before broadcasting could resume.

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