Police officers are seen in Quezon City, Philippines, on March 29, 2021. Radio journalist Cris Bundoquin was recently shot and killed in the city of Calapan. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Radio journalist Cris Bundoquin shot and killed in the Philippines

Bangkok, May 31, 2023—Philippine authorities must launch a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of radio journalist Cris Bundoquin, determine if he was targeted for his work, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

In the early hours of Wednesday, May 31, two assailants on a motorcycle shot and killed Bundoquin on the C5 Road in the city of Calapan, in Oriental Mindoro province, according to multiple news reports.

Bundoquin, who hosted the Ayos Mandin radio program on the local broadcaster DWXR 101.7 Kalahi FM and owned the internet broadcaster MUX Online Radio, was opening a store he owned in Calapan when he was attacked. One attacker was killed at the scene and the other escaped and remained at large as of Wednesday evening.

National Police Chief General Benjamin Acorda Jr. said police had established a special task force to handle the investigation and were trying to determine the motive for the attack, those reports said.

“The senseless killing of radio reporter Cris Bundoquin shows that those who attack journalists remain undeterred under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s one-year-old government,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Until the Philippine government shows it is serious about ending impunity in media murders, such killings will likely continue.”   

News reports offered conflicting information on how one of the assailants was killed at the scene, with some saying that they were killed by police and others that Bundoquin’s son killed them with his vehicle. When CPJ called the Calapan City Police Station, a sergeant who answered confirmed that one suspect had been killed but did not provide details.

The sergeant, who asked not to be named because they did not have permission to speak to the media, said police were pursuing the second suspect.

DWXR 101.7 Kalahi FM’s Facebook page showed that the outlet covered a wide variety of local news topics. CPJ was unable to find any broadcasts by Bundoquin, and the station did not immediately reply to CPJ’s request for comment and information sent via email and Facebook Messenger.

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.

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

CPJ recently documented how the new administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has seen less overt antagonism toward the media than his predecessor, but that journalists continued to await substantive actions to improve the safety of the press in the country.