Bantay Radyo off the air after equipment seized

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Victor Anthony V. Silva |August 02,2015 - 01:19 AM

Sanchez decries ‘raids’ on three stations  in Cebu, Negros Oriental by franchise owner SIAM

The El Nuevo Bantay Radyo network suddenly went off the air yesterday after three of their transmission sites were disabled.

Several men entered the premises  between 12 midnight and 1 a.m.  yesterday and removed  black boxes  that generate  the frequency for the radio transmitters.

Yody Sanchez, Busay barangay councilman, and vice president for operations of the Pafi Foundation which manages the network, said the  simultaneous “raids”  were an offshoot of  the  legal  battle with the franchise owner, Sarraga Integrating and Management (SIAM), which was issued a temporary restraining order by the court against cutting off operations by Pafi when  their contract ends July 31.

The  AM radio station network’s transmitters are located in barangay Inayawan, Cebu City; Bogo City; and Guihulngan town in Negros Oriental.

Sanchez said he learned from technicians that the men introduced themselves as being sent by SIAM.

“They raided our transmitters simultaneously. They took our exciter, one of the vital parts of the transmitter. Once the exciter is gone, we can’t go on air,” he told Cebu Daily News.

Scenario

In dyZZ broadcasting from Guihulngan, two men  entered the transmission site while two men believed to be armed kept watch from a distance.

A similar scenario happened at dyDD in barangay Inayawan.

The visitors took all three 10,000-kilowatt Omnitronix Solid State exciters, each the size of a standard DVD player.

Sanchez said the exciter is responsible for generating the carrier frequency for radio transmitters.

“The exciter is like the Central Processing Unit of a transmitter,” he said.

A replacement part would cost more than P600,000 each and would have to be shipped from the US, Sanchez said.

The PAFI Foundation is run by the family of Provincial Board (PB) Member Grecilda “Gigi” Sanchez-Zaballero.

Sanchez said he called Engr. Arleen Jimenez, SIAM vice president for technical operations, to clarify the matter.

Jimenez admitted that they took the exciters and they were only acting on orders of SIAM president Francisco Sarraga based in Cagayan de Oro City.

Violation

Last Friday, the Regional Trial Court issued a 20-temporary restraining order against SIAM, stopping it from turning over management of the network to the Cebu CFI Community Cooperative.

The 20-day stay order was enough to set back a plan for the co-op to take over the network by August 1, yesterday, when the existing contract with  would have with expired.

Sanchez said the move was a clear violation of the  court order, which requires the parties involved not to  take any equipment, facilities and machinery.

“We are requesting the management of SIAM to respect the rule of law while the case is still going on,” he said.

He worried that 23 Bantay Radyo employees — technicians, announcers, writers — would  lose their jobs.

Councilman Sanchez said they suspect CFI’s involvement in the raids  but  lawyer Lito Astillero, CFI spokesperson, denied any hand in it.

PB Member Zaballero said she will issue a statement on Monday after referring to her lawyer.

Lawyer Edgar Gica, one of Pafi Foundation’s legal counsel, said they  may file a motion to cite SIAM in contempt of court, as well as the cooperative.

But as of yesterday, a P1 million bond required by the court from PAFI for the TRO to take effect had not yet been paid, accroindg to court staff.

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