Philippines: radio anchor shot dead during live broadcast

  • 06 Nov 2023

Radio anchor Juan Jumalon was killed by an unidentified assailant inside his home-based studio in the southern Misamis Occidental province while live on air on November 5.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), strongly condemned this brazen killing and called for an immediate investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

On the morning of November 5, Juan Jumalon, also known as DJ Johnny Walker, was shot dead while broadcasting his program on Gold FM 94.7 from his home studio in Calamba in the Misamis Occidental province of Northern Mindanao. Initial investigations by Calamba Police Station found the gunman pretended to be a listener and asked permission to enter the radio station’s premises to announce “something important”.

Jumalon was shot twice in the head during the broadcast, which was also being streamed live on Facebook. A video of the attack shows the gunman snatching Jumalon’s gold necklace before fleeing with a companion. The journalist was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police have initiated a ‘dragnet operation’ to capture the perpetrator, and investigations are ongoing to uncover the potential motives behind the murder. The NUJP held a candlelight vigil on the evening of November 5, calling for justice for Jumalon and an end to impunity for crimes against journalists.

Jumalon is the fourthFilipino journalist to be killed under the administration of President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos since June 2022, and the 199th journalist to be killed since the country’s restoration of democracy in 1986, after the People’s Power Revolution that toppled the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the father of the current president.

While the media community in the Philippines had hoped for an improved environment for journalists after the change in presidency from Rodrigo Duterte to Bongbong Marcos, the country has continued to see the regular targeting of ‘block timers’, including the shootings of radio presenters Jhannah VillegasFederico 'Ding' GempesawRey Blanco and Percival ‘Percy Lapid’ Mabasa in 2022. Jumalon becomes the second journalist to be killed in 2023, after CWXR Kalahi Radio 101.7 broadcaster Cresenciano Bundoquin was shot outside his home on May 31.

The killing comes the same week as the United Nations International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists on November 2. According to the latest Global Impunity Index 2023, the Philippines ranked as the eighth worst country when it comes to prosecuting killers of journalists.

The NUJP said: 

“NUJP condemns the brazen killing of Juan Jumalon of 94.7 Calamba Gold FM in Calamba, Misamis Occidental. The attack is even more condemnable since it happened at Jumalon’s own home. The killing also comes in the same week as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.”

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary said: 

“The IFJ strongly condemns the heinous and blatant killing of radio broadcaster Juan Jumalon during a live program within his own home and demands a swift investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. This tragic event underscores the alarming climate for media workers in the Philippines, where impunity for crimes against journalists remains rampant. The need for greater protection of press freedom and journalists' safety is paramount to ensure all media workers can work without fear of harassment, retaliation, and murder.”

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