Edmund Sestoso, a broadcast reporter with Dumaguete’s DYGB-FM radio station, was shot several times at around 10 a.m. on April 30, 2018, by an unidentified gunman while he was returning home on a public transport pedicab after hosting his morning public affairs program, according to reports. Sestoso sustained gunshot wounds to his chest, leg, and stomach, the reports said.
The National Union of Journalists Philippines (NUJP), a local press freedom group, and news reports stated that the gunman then shot out the tires of a pedicab that was preparing to take Sestoso to a local hospital before fleeing the scene on the back of an unidentified person’s black motorcycle.
Sestoso received emergency care at the Silliman University Medical Center Foundation in Dumaguete City. He died on May 1, 2018, shortly after 3 p.m., according to the Philippine Inquirer news website.
Senior Superintendent Raul Tacaca, director of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, told GMA Network that police investigators had identified three suspects affiliated with the New People’s Army, a communist insurgent group.
Sestoso’s wife, Lourdes Sestoso, filed a murder complaint on May 25 at the Dumaguete City Prosecutor’s Office naming the suspects as Rene Bustamante, an alleged member of the NPA with alias “Pediong,” “Jade B. Hervias,” and “Jury Merecido,” as well as two other John Does, with aliases “Ka Mokong” and “Ka Sherwin,” the GMA report said.
Tacaca said an unidentified witness in the case had suggested a possible motive behind the killing could have been a personal vendetta, as Bustamante reportedly suspected Sestoso had something to do with his arrest at a Tanjay City police checkpoint in 2014, according to the GMA report.
Tacara said investigators suspected Sestoso’s killing was more likely linked to his alleged links with the communist insurgent group and not his work as a journalist, the report said. The NPA denied any responsibility for Sestoso’s killing, local reports said. No arrests were made, reports said.
Lourdes Sestoso told local broadcaster ABS-CBN News that her husband had received threats related to his radio broadcasting before his killing. The report did not specify the nature or source of the threats. She withdrew the murder complaint in early June to allow for more time to gather evidence, her legal counsel, Alfredo Hermosa III said, according to local reports.
Sestoso was previously the chairman of NUJP’s Negros Oriental province branch, NUJP told CPJ by email.
Joel Egco, director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment on the case sent via email in December 2018.