Audrey Gaid Estrada

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On March 17, 2022, an assailant stabbed to death Philippine journalist Audrey Gaid Estrada at her home in the city of Bacolod, in Lanao Del Norte province.

Estrada’s body was found in the morning by a motorcycle shop owner who had gone to her residence, according to news reports quoting Police Lieutenant Colonel Salman Saad.

Responding police officers found Estrada lying on the second floor of her house with 15 stab wounds and recovered a 15-inch knife on the ground floor, the reports said.

Estrada’s family members took her body to a nearby community hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival, the reports said.   

Police Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Olaivar of Police Regional Office (PRO) 10’s public information office initially said Estrada’s killing was not related to the victim’s work as a radio news anchor, the GMA News Online report said.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency comprised of Philippine police and tasked with solving media murders, also quoted Olaivar as saying Estrada’s killing was not likely related to her radio work in a March 18, 2022, state-run Philippine News Agency report.

In a follow-up PNA report, on March 23, 2022, Saad said closed-circuit television footage in a nearby establishment had provided leads on an unnamed person of interest in the murder. He also said the family submitted Estrada’s cell phone for police examination.

In June 2022, the Regional Trial Court Brach 8 of Iligan City issued an arrest warrant for murder against a suspect identified as Ronald Decena, according to information the task force supplied to CPJ in August 2023.

The task force information said it categorized Estrada’s killing as “work-related” because the suspect was still at large. Paul Gutierrez, the task force’s executive director, told CPJ in a September 12, 2023, email that attacks victimizing members of the press are deemed as “work-related” unless further investigation clearly establishes it was not the case.  He said the task force considers Estrada’s murder as “partly solved” and an ongoing case.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local press advocacy group, told CPJ by email on September 11, 2023, that it considers Estrada’s killing to be “work-related” pending further investigation.  

Estrada hosted two daily programs at the Bacolod-based 101.3 Grace Covenant FM community radio station, according to an Inquirer.Net report quoting a colleague who requested anonymity. The colleague said, “her commentaries are based on facts and not below the belt.”

The station did not immediately reply to CPJ’s emailed emailed and Facebook Messenger requests for comment.