Two unidentified assailants on a motorcycle shot and killed Eduardo Dizon, a radio news anchor with the privately owned Brigada News FM in Kidapawan City, in the southern Philippines, on July 10, 2019, according to media reports.
The assailants shot Dizon five times while he was driving home at about 10:25 p.m. after hosting his evening news program, killing him instantly, according to those reports. Police recovered seven spent cartridges at the scene shot from a 9 millimeter-caliber gun.
The same reports said a police SWAT team pursued but failed to apprehend the assailants.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local group that monitors press freedom violations, said in a statement that Dizon had received death threats by text message a few days before the attack, which he reported to Kidapawan police.
The daily Philippine Star reported that Dizon told police the death threats could have been related to his critical reporting and commentary on an alleged investment scam.
The money market scheme, known as Kapa, was shut down in June by the government and was the subject of judicial litigation by the National Bureau of Investigation, the Securities Exchange Commission, and Anti-Money Laundering Council, the Philippine Star reported.
Brigada News, the parent company of the broadcaster where Dizon worked, released a statement cited in news reports saying Dizon’s killing was related to his "relentless exposé against unscrupulous individuals and organizations involved in illegal activities." Brigada News did not reply to CPJ’s emailed requests for comment.
The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state body tasked with investigating media murder cases, told CPJ that it considered Dizon’s murder to be “work-related.”
In September 2019, the Kidapawan City Prosecution Office filed murder charges against Junell Jane Poten, Sotero “Jun” Jacolbe Jr., and Dante Tabusares, alias Bong Encarnacion, according to ABS-CBN and CNN Philippines. Jacolbe and Tabusares are also local journalists, according to ABS-CBN.
On August 15, 2019, witness Helario Lapi Jr. named Tabosares, a local leader of the Kapa scheme, as the mastermind of the killing, and said it was motivated by Llana’s critical writing about the scheme, according to case notes compiled by the Presidential Task Force for Media Security, which CPJ reviewed.
Poten and Tabosares were at large and Jacolbe was on bail pending further court hearings, according to an August 2020 statement by the task force addressed to CPJ.
In a March 7, 2021, statement, the task force said it directed the Philippine National Police to intensify their manhunt for Tabosares. The statement claimed the suspect had joined the insurgent Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army in Arakan, North Cotabato, to evade arrest.
A motion to change the venue of Jacolbe’s trial submitted to the Supreme Court by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility on behalf of Dizon’s kin “delayed court proceedings” in 2021, according to Perry Solis Jr., the task force’s chief of staff, who communicated with CPJ via email.
Dizon unsuccessfully ran for a local legislative position during elections held countrywide in May, according to news reports. He had previously served as town councilor in Makilala, North Cotabato, according to a state media report.