Benjie Caballero

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Benjie Caballero, a station manager at the Radyo ni Juan network, was shot at 1:15 p.m. on October 30, 2019, by two motorcycle-riding assailants outside of his home in the town of Tacurong, in the southern Philippines’ Sultan Kudarat province, according to media reports.

Caballero sustained five gunshot wounds in the attack and was taken to the intensive care unit of St. Louis Hospital, where doctors removed two .45 caliber bullets from his lungs, according to the Philippine Star. He was later transferred to a Davao City hospital where he died of pneumonia-related complications on December 2, 2019, according to news reports.

Caballero had received death threats over Facebook before the attack, though it was not immediately clear if the threats were related to his journalism, a representative of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local press freedom group, told CPJ via email.

Philippine news website Rappler reported that Caballero was known to be critical of a powerful political clan in Maguindanao province, without naming the group or elaborating.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on November 1 that a team of Department of Justice prosecutors would lead law enforcement investigators in pursuing the case, the Philippine Inquirer newspaper reported.

Caballero also served as the president of the Sultan Kudarat Task Force on Media Security, a state body tasked with investigating media murder cases, and as a correspondent with the local Remate newspaper, the Philippine Star report said.

Joel Egco, the task force’s co-chairperson, told CPJ by email that state investigators were pursuing multiple potential motives, including any possible connections with the reporter’s political activities and associations. Egco also suggested in reports that the attack may have been related to Caballero’s involvement in a local financial business.