People call for the protection of media workers at a rally following the killing of Filipino radio journalist Percival Mabasa, in Quezon City, Philippines, on October 4, 2022.
A rally calling for the protection of media workers following the killing of journalist Percival Mabasa in Quezon City, Philippines, on October 4, 2022. With the death of Juan Jumalon on November 5, 2023, a total of four journalists have been killed in the Philippines since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. came to power. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

Filipino radio journalist Juan Jumalon shot dead while live broadcasting

Bangkok, November 6, 2023—Philippine authorities must launch a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of radio journalist Juan Jumalon, determine if he was targeted for his work, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On Sunday morning, an assailant entered Jumalon’s home-based radio station pretending to be a listener and shot him twice during his live broadcast on Facebook in the city of Calamba, on the southern island of Mindanao, according to multiple news reports. The attacker stole Jumalon’s gold necklace before escaping on a motorcycle driven by a waiting accomplice, those sources said.

Sunday’s livestream on 94.7 Gold Mega Calamba FM, a local Visayan-language station, was removed from Facebook but video clips circulating online show Jumalon pausing and looking away from the camera before two apparent gunshots are heard, the U.S. news channel CNN reported. The journalist was declared dead on arrival at a local hospital, news reports said.

“The wanton killing of radio reporter Juan Jumalon shows that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s government isn’t doing enough to protect the press,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Talk is not equivalent to action. Until Marcos Jr.’s government shows it is serious about ending impunity for such killings, journalists will continue to be murdered at a horrific rate in the Philippines.” 

Marcos Jr. addressed Jumalon’s killing in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying, “Attacks on journalists will not be tolerated in our democracy, and those who threaten the freedom of the press will face the full consequences of their actions.”

Jumalon is the fourth journalist to be killed since Marcos Jr. took power in June 2022.

Jumalon, also known as DJ Johnny Walker, hosted a regular call-in program on 94.7 Gold Mega Calamba FM, which discussed everything from neighborhood issues to relationships, those sources said.  

Captain Diore Libre Ragonio, the officer-in-charge at Calamba Municipal Police Station, told a news conference that authorities had identified at least three suspects and were investigating motives related to the journalist’s work, as well as personal matters.

In a statement, Paul Gutierrez, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency that includes the police and was set up in 2016 to resolve cases of violence against media workers, described the incident as a “dastardly attack.” He called for the police to immediately activate a special investigation task group to identify and arrest the suspects.

CPJ has documented how the Marco’s Jr.’s government has been less overtly antagonistic towards the media than the administration of his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, but that journalists still await substantive action to improve press safety in the country.

The Philippines ranked eighth on CPJ’s 2023 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries worldwide where journalists are slain and their killers go free.

Editor’s note: This text has been updated to correct the location of Calamba in the second paragraph.