Caution tape is seen on a street in Manila, the Philippines, on March 11, 2021. Journalist Federico Gempesaw was recently shot and killed in Cagayan De Oro City. (AP/Aaron Favila)

Radio reporter Federico Gempesaw shot and killed in the Philippines

Bangkok, July 5, 2022 – Philippine authorities must launch a swift and comprehensive investigation into the killing of radio journalist Federico “Ding” Gempesaw and swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

On the morning of June 29, two masked assailants shot Gempesaw at close range in front of his home in southern Cagayan De Oro City’s Carmen village, according to news reports. Gempesaw wrestled with one of the assailants after being shot in the back of his neck when a second gunman shot the reporter fatally in the head, those reports said.

The suspects fled on a motorcycle without a license plate, according to unidentified witnesses cited in those reports. Police recovered shells from an unknown gun caliber at the crime scene and have not established a motive for the attack, the reports said.

“The wanton slaying of radio journalist Federico Gempesaw sadly shows that the killers of members of the press remain undeterred in the Philippines,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Until Philippine authorities show they are serious about ending impunity in media murders, these types of killings will inevitably continue.”

Gempesaw, a radio reporter who hosted the “Bitayan sa Kahanginan” (“Gallows On-Air”) block-time radio program at the privately owned broadcaster Radyo Natin, reported on local politics and was described as a “hard-hitting” commentator in news reports.

Radyo Natin did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.

Gempesaw formerly worked as a government official heading an economics office in the Cagayan De Oro City Hall, according to reports.

CPJ emailed the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency comprised of Philippine police and tasked with solving media murders, but did not immediately receive any reply. CPJ called multiple Cagayan De Oro City police stations for comment, but no one answered.

The Philippines ranked seventh on CPJ’s most recent Impunity Index, which spotlights countries worldwide where journalists are slain and the killers go free.