On September 14, 2020, two unidentified assailants on a motorcycle shot and killed Bercasio, a reporter and commentator at the privately run internet broadcaster Balangibog, in Sorsogon City, in the central Philippines, according to news reports and a statement emailed to CPJ by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a state agency tasked with solving media killings.
Bercasio was riding his motorcycle near the XTRM Seabreeze Homes subdivision in the city’s Cabid-an village, when the attackers shot him five times and then fled, leaving the journalist to die at the scene, according to news reports and the statement.
Station Chief Lieutenant Colonel Benito Dipad Jr. said on September 15, 2020, that investigators had not determined a motive for the murder, according to the Philippine Inquirer. The Police Regional Office 5 said on September 15 that it has formed a special team to investigate the killing, reports said.
The Manila Bulletin reported that Bercasio was shot about 100 meters from the Sorsogon City police headquarters.
The task force said in an October 5, 2020, statement addressed to CPJ that investigators had identified six persons of interest who are believed to be involved in the shooting incident. No arrests had been made at the time.
The statement said Bercasio had criticized a local politician in his last broadcast before his murder. The task force said it did not consider Bercasio a media worker at the time of his death because his broadcasts were not carried by a recognized local media entity but rather carried via Facebook, which it did not deem as media work, and because he unsuccessfully ran for elected office in 2019.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local press group, said in a statement that Bercasio was killed about one hour after posting allegations on his personal Facebook page that trucks were operating in a nearby quarry without proper documentation.
On his personal page, Bercasio frequently posted links to his reporting and commentary on local political issues.
Balangibog’s Facebook page shows that Bercasio frequently reported and commented on local political and development issues, including during a call-in show he hosted.
Nonoy Espina, the NUJP’s chairman, told CPJ by email in early October that his group believes Bercasio’s killing was related to his journalism as he had been “hitting out strongly on several issues, particularly illegal logging.”