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 wrestled 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. Police recovered shells from an unknown gun caliber at the crime scene and have not established a motive for the attack, the reports said.

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.

Jonathan De Santos, the chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local press group, told CPJ by email that Gempesaw’s killing “could be work-related, although it could also be related to his former job at Cagayan de Oro City Hall.”

“Journalists in Cagayan de Oro recognize him as a media worker for his work as a block timer at Radyo Natin CDO and have called for a swift resolution to the case,” De Santos said.

Perry Solis Jr., an officer in charge of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency comprised of police and tasked with solving media murders, told CPJ by email that authorities were involved in an “ongoing investigation” into the killing and that it would apprise CPJ of “all pertinent details regarding the incident as soon as possible.” 

CPJ called multiple Cagayan de Oro City police stations for comment, but no one would comment on the case.