Misamis Occidental broadcaster gunned down while on air

MANILA – Armed men gunned down a radio anchor on Sunday, November 5, while broadcasting live at his home studio in Calamba town, Misamis Occidental, in the southern Philippines. 

The killing of Juan Jumalon, 57, of 94.7 Gold FM occurred a few days after the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity (IDEI) for Crimes against Journalists and the release of the 2023 Global Impunity Index that ranked the Philippines 8th in the world in media killings.

Jumalon was hosting his weekend infotainment program, “Pahapyod sa Kabuntagon (Morning Greetings),” when two gunmen barged into his studio and shot him. The attack was caught on the program’s Facebook livestream, now deleted by the broadcast station.

According to the Calamba police, the gunmen arrived “by foot” at around 5:40 a.m. at Jumalon’s house to ask if they could make an announcement on the program. When a household member opened the gate for them, one of the suspects held him at gunpoint while the other barged into the radio booth and shot the broadcaster. The gunman grabbed the victim’s “gold necklace” before fleeing with his cohort. 

Jumalon was rushed to the Calamba District Hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

The police said it has created a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to look into the killing while President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and media groups denounced the attack.

 Press Freedom Groups Condemn the Killing

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), in a statement, denounced the killing and highlighted that the attack is “even more condemnable” as it happened inside the victim’s own home and workplace.

Hours after the attack, several media advocacy groups gathered at the Commission of Human Rights in Quezon City for an indignation rally and candle-lighting.

In a SunStar report, the Mindanao Independent Press Council Inc. (MIPC) stressed that “this barbarity has no place in a just and civilized society.“ The press council also highlighted that “attacks on journalists are not only attacks on the individuals themselves but are a grave assault on the fundamental principles of human rights, press freedom, and democracy.”

Journalist Killings and Impunity

Based on CMFR’s data, Jumalon is the fourth journalist killed under Marcos Jr.’s watch. If proven work-related, his killing will be the 179th case of journalists killed in the line of work since 1986. It was also the fourth media killing in Misamis Occidental. 

Jumalon slay happened on the week of IDEI. Based on the Global Impunity Index released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Philippines remains one of the worst countries for journalists at eighth place, a slide down from the seventh ranking in the past two years. 

Different threats and attacks against media workers persist including red-tagging, surveillance, assault, and harassment. A high number of cases of media killings in the Philippines remain unresolved.

Of the 178 cases of work-related killings, at least 20 or 11 percent resulted in convictions, 51 or 29 percent if the 31 cases prosecuted for the Ampatuan Massacre are included. The number also includes the case of murdered broadcaster Percy Lapid, who was killed on October 3, 2022, as three of the inmates involved in his killing were convicted as accessories by the Las Pinas City Regional Trial Court in June 2023, while the suspected mastermind remains free

Excluding the Ampatuan killings, only in four other cases have the masterminds been brought to court.