Dennis Denora, publisher and reporter at the privately owned weekly English-language community newspaper Trends and Times, was shot at around 1:10 p.m. on June 7, 2018, in Panabo City, in the southern province of Davao del Norte, while in his car and died instantly from multiple gunshot wounds to the head, according to news reports. His driver, Mayonito Rivera, was also wounded in the attack, the reports said.
Police spokesman Chief Inspector Milgrace Driz said that an unidentified assailant escaped on foot, according to a Manila Bulletin newspaper report. Police recovered three fired bullets and one used cartridge case from a .45 caliber pistol from the scene, the reports said.
The Philippine Inquirer reported that police had formed a special investigation task force to probe the killing, including the possibility his murder was related to his journalism. Chief Inspector Frederick Deles, acting chief of the Panabo City police, said Denora had no known enemies or threats against his life, the report said.
Joel Egco, director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a government body created by President Rodrigo Duterte to resolve media murder cases, said the day after his killing--without elaborating--that a “very influential politician” could be the mastermind behind Denora’s killing, according to local reports.
“The initial report we received is that his killing has something to do with politics,” Egco was quoted as saying on June 8, 2018. On December 10, 2018, Egco told CPJ by email that his task force had received “raw reports” that indicated Denora’s killing may have been influenced by a “bitter rivalry between two big politicians in the area,” but that he was still waiting for the results of a police investigation into the matter.
On January 23, 2019, the Panabo City Prosecutor’s Office filed murder charges against Richard Posas Bolastig and unidentified coconspirators, according information compiled by the presidential task force and shared with CPJ. Posas Bolastig was at large as of late August 2019, the information showed. The task force information identifies Denora’s murder as related to his work as a journalist.
The Davao del Norte Press and Radio-TV Club, an independent local press group, said in a statement that Denora was known for his "fearless" newspaper and radio reports. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a national press freedom advocacy group, said on its Facebook page that Denora's killing was a clear assault on press freedom.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines told CPJ that it considered Denora’s death to be work-related and that its investigation showed he was working on a story related to illegal drugs at the time of his killing.
Denora, 67, also had a regular radio program where he rented air time on dxKS-FM in Tagum City, and was the founding chairperson of Davao Region Multi-Media Group, one of several media associations in Davao del Norte province, reports said.