Manila: Government agents arrested late on Friday two Central Philippines-based radio journalists after they were accused by a government official of extorting money from them.

When accosted by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Reynante "Rey" Cortez and Lito "Bing-bong" Solon denied they demanded and accepted money from Undersecretary Elberto Emphasis of the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

Encounter

The duo was arrested at a crowded restaurant inside a mall in Cebu City, the daily Sunstar said in a report yesterday. They were apprehended following a complaint filed by Emphasis which claimed that duo had demanded P20,000 ($400; Dh1,468) ) from him so that they would desist from criticising them in their programme Engkwentro (Encounter) which is aired over radio station dyDD.

Earlier, the NBI had set up an entrapment operation to capture the duo.

The agents dusted a special marking powder on the money given Emphasis so that it would rub off on Cortez and Solon and thereby serve as evidence of the extortion attempt.

Emphasis said that the two broadcasters used to see him regularly when he was still in the private sector.

He said the two would ask from him for "small amounts" every now and then, but when he had been appointed to his current government post, the duo stopped the practice until last week. Like many so-called "block-timers", Solon and Cortes buy airtime and produce their own shows, independent of the station's management.