Radio commentator shot dead in Philippines

Bangkok, August 30, 2013–A radio commentator was shot dead in Iligan City on Thursday, the fourth journalist to be murdered in the Philippines in the past month. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to investigate the murder of Fernando “Nanding” Solijon and swiftly bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. 

Two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle shot Solijon while he was walking to his car after having dinner with a friend at around 10:30 p.m. in Bur-un village of Iligan City, in Lanao del Norte province of Northern Mindanao region, according to news reports. The news accounts said the assailants shot him several times at close range in the head, abdomen, and shoulder. Police investigators recovered a number of shells from a .45 caliber handgun from the scene, according to the reports.

Solijon, a radio commentator with DxLS Love Radio of Iligan City, was declared dead on arrival at a local hospital. During his regular radio program, Solijon frequently criticized local politicians. His past reports included accusations that village-level officials were involved in the illegal drug trade.

He was also known to maintain close ties with Iligan City representative Vicente “Varf” Belmonte, who strongly condemned the attack in a text message sent to local reporters, according to news reports and the National Union of Journalists, a local press freedom advocacy group.   

“How many more journalists must be killed before President Benigno Aquino makes a genuine commitment to ending the cycle of impunity in media murders in the Philippines?” said CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative, Shawn Crispin. “We call on the government to quickly establish the motive behind Fernando Solijon’s killing and bring his killers to justice.”

At least three other journalists have been killed in the Philippines over the past calendar month. On July 30, newspaper columnists Richard Kho and Bonifacio Loreto were shot and killed by motorcycle-riding assailants in the Quezon City area of the capital Manila. On August 1, freelance photographer Mario Sy was shot and killed by an unidentified gunman who entered his home in southern General Santos City. CPJ is investigating the circumstances behind the murders to determine if they were related to the victims’ work as journalists.  

At least 73 Philippine journalists have been killed in direct connection to their work since 1992, making the Philippines the second deadliest country in the world for the press, according to CPJ research. At least 55 journalist murders in the past decade are unresolved, according to CPJ research. The Philippines ranks third on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which calculates unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of each country’s population.

  • For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Philippines page.