Cris Bundoquin

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

In the early morning of May 31, 2023, two assailants on a motorcycle shot and killed Philippine journalist Cresenciano “Cris” Bundoquin on the C5 Road in the city of Calapan, in Oriental Mindoro province.

The journalist was opening a store he owned when he was shot at least five times with a .45 caliber pistol and died at the scene.

Bundoquin, 50, hosted the Ayos Mandin radio program on the local broadcaster DWXR 101.7 Kalahi FM and had recently reported on local environmental issues. DWXR 101.7 Kalahi FM covers a variety of local news, according to CPJ’s review of the outlet’s Facebook page.

He also owned the internet broadcaster MUX Online Radio. CPJ’s emails and Facebook messages in June 2023 to the outlets did not receive a response.

One assailant, identified as Narcisco Ignacio Guntan, died from head injuries when he fell from the motorcycle after Bundoquin’s son gave chase in his vehicle. The second attacker and suspected shooter, identified by police on June 6 as Isabelo Lopez Bautista, escaped the crime scene on foot.

A police-run Special Investigation Task Group filed murder and attempted murder charges against Bautista on June 6 based on undisclosed evidence and witness testimonies.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency comprised of Philippine police and tasked with solving media murders, said in a June 6 press release that its probe into Bundoquin’s killing would not stop with the charges filed against Bautista.

The press release also quoted the task force’s executive director, Paul Gutierrez, saying, “There are at least three other persons of interest whose involvement or non-involvement in this case should be firmly established before we can confidently declare this as ‘solved.’”

He called on authorities to look into an unnamed provincial official, who allegedly hired Bautista as a driver and whom Bundoquin had criticized on his radio program, as well as an unnamed police major and his associate, without detailing why.

On July 6, 2023, Calapan’s Regional Trial Court Branch 39 issued a warrant for Bautista’s arrest for alleged murder and attempted murder, according to information the task force supplied to CPJ.

On July 11, the National Bureau of Investigation announced that it had arrested Bautista and that he was being held at its detention facility in Oriental Mindoro, according to news reports, which said Bautista maintained his innocence.

The task force information said that Bundoquin’s killing was related to his work as a journalist, and that he was targeted in part due to his critical reporting on local politics and alleged illegal gambling rings in Oriental Mindoro. Rappler reported that Bautista and Guntan allegedly worked for a man who operated local carnivals where illegal gambling activities occurred.

The task force said Bautista remained at an NBI facility as of the end of July 2023. CPJ was unable to find contact information for Bautista or his legal representation.