A radio anchor was fatally shot by a man inside his southern Philippine station Sunday in a brazen attack that was witnessed by people watching the program live on Facebook.
Police said the gunman gained entry into the home-based radio station of provincial news broadcaster Juan Jumalon — who went by the name “DJ Johnny Walker” — by pretending to be a listener. He then shot him twice during a live morning broadcast in Calamba town in Misamis Occidental province, police said.
The attacker snatched the victim’s gold necklace before fleeing with a companion, who waited outside Jumalon’s house, onboard a motorcycle, police said. An investigation was underway to identify the gunman and establish if the attack was work-related.
The Philippines has long been regarded as one of the mostin the world.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. strongly condemned the shooting and said he ordered the national police to track down, arrest and prosecute the killers.
“Attacks on journalists will not be tolerated in our democracy and those who threaten the freedom of the press will face the full consequences of their actions,” Marcos said in a statement.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a press freedom watchdog, said Jumalon was the 199th journalist to be killed in the country since 1986, when democracy returned after a “People Power” uprising toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the father of the current president, and forced him and his family into U.S. exile.
“The attack is even more condemnable since it happened at Jumalon’s own home, which also served as the radio station,” the watchdog said.
A video of the attack shows the bespectacled Jumalon, 57, pausing and looking upward at something away from the camera before two shots rang out. He slumped back bloodied in his chair as a background music played on. The BBC reported that the DJ’s wife took him to hospital immediately after the incident, but he was pronounced dead on the way to a hospital.
The attacker was not seen on the Facebook livestream but police said they were checking if security cameras installed in the house and at his neighbors recorded anything.
Captain Deore Ragonio, police chief in Calamba municipality, said they were investigating a motive for the killing. They were not aware of any previous threats against Jumalon’s life.
“He tackles mostly current events and is not known to have criticized anyone in his broadcasts,” Ragonio told AFP.
Jumalon used the name “DJ Johnny Walker” in his Cebuano-language show at the 94.7 Gold FM Calamba station.
His broadcasts were also aired on the station’s Facebook page, which has 2,400 followers. A video of the DJ was posted as recently as Oct. 29 on the radio station’s Facebook page.
Other deadly attacks on journalists in the Philippines
In 2009, members of a powerful political clan and their associates gunned down 58 people, including 32 media workers, in a brazen execution-style attack in southern Maguindanao province. It was the deadliest single attack on journalists in recent history.
While the mass killing was later linked to a violent electoral rivalry common in many rural areas, it also showcased the. A surfeit of unlicensed guns and private armies controlled by powerful clans and weak law enforcement in rural regions are among the security concerns journalists face in the poverty-stricken Southeast Asian country.
Radio journalists have been targeted in recent months in the Philippines. In May, two assailants on a motorcycle shot and killed radio host Cris Bundoquin on a road in the city of Calapan, according to multiple news reports.
Last October, motorcycle-riding gunmen killed longtime radio commentatorin metropolitan Manila. Police said Mabasa, 63, was driving his vehicle Monday night when two men on a motorcycle approached and shot him twice in the head in suburban Las Pinas City.
The Philippines ranks eighth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ new “impunity index,” which spotlights countries worldwide where journalists are murdered and the killers go free.