Federico Gempesaw

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On the morning of June 29, 2022, two masked assailants shot Philippine journalist Federico “Ding” Gempesaw at close range in front of his home in southern Cagayan de Oro City’s Carmen village, according to multiple news reports.

Gempesaw was wrestling with one of the assailants after being shot in the back of his neck when a second gunman shot him fatally in the head, causing him to fall into a canal, according to those reports. Gempesaw’s children brought his body from the canal to the roadside before the police arrived.

The suspects fled the crime scene on a motorcycle without a license plate, according to unidentified witnesses cited in the news reports.

On October 27, 2022, Cagayan de Oro City police spokesperson Colonel Ivan Vinas said that Gempesaw’s killing was “media-related” and that the mastermind was a “big figure” who he left unnamed, according to the independent news website Rappler. Vinas said police filed murder complaints against two men alleged to have carried out the attack, whom he did not name, on August 11.

“It was definitely a media-related killing. Gempesaw was killed because the mastermind could not stand his daily tirades on radio,” Vinas said, according to that report.

Gempesaw, a radio reporter who hosted the “Bitayan sa Kahanginan” (“Gallows On-Air”) block-time radio program at the privately owned national broadcaster Radyo Natin’s local Cagayan de Oro affiliate 106.3 FM CDO, reported on local politics and was described as a “hard-hitting” commentator in news reports.

Ronald Rufin, a 106.3 FM CDO manager, said Gempesaw had been a block-time commentator since 2019 and had become a regular program anchor after the May 2022 nationwide elections, according to a state-run Philippine News Agency report.

Radio block-time reporters, who lease airtime from a radio station, have been frequently targeted in provincial areas of the Philippines, according to CPJ research.

106.3 FM CDO did not respond to CPJ’s email and Facebook messages. A pinned post on the station’s Facebook page features a montage of Gempesaw’s segments, punctuated by a message saying, “You will be remembered.”

Gempesaw formerly worked as a government official heading an economics office in the Cagayan de Oro City Hall that was in charge of all public markets in the city under then-Mayor Vicente Mayo, according to news reports.

CPJ called multiple Cagayan de Oro City police stations for comment, but did not receive any responses to questions about the case.