Cantoneros, a "block-time" radio broadcaster known for hard-hitting commentary, died after being shot as many as seven times by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Dipolog City on the southern island of Mindanao.
Cantoneros, 32, who frequently criticized local officials for alleged corruption and illegal gambling on his talk radio program on DXAA-FM, was returning home at around 1:30 a.m. when he was attacked by as many as three gunmen, according to local news reports.
Cantoneros was clutching his own .45-caliber pistol when he was found, and he appeared to have fired back at his attackers, the news Web site ABS-CBN quoted police as saying. Cantoneros' colleague, Robert Baguio, told radio station DZBB that the journalist identified his assailants before undergoing surgery, according to the Inquirer News Service. He died at around 11 p.m.
Cantoneros' colleagues told reporters that the journalist had received several death threats, some by text message, ABS-CBN reported. Journalists said that Cantoneros was likely murdered in retaliation for his bold commentary about local politicians. "Block-timing" is a practice in which broadcasters lease airtime from a station owner and solicit their own commercial sponsors. Cantoneros died two days after CPJ named the Philippines the most murderous country for journalists in the world.
A special task force dedicated to solving Cantoneros' murder was formed in May 2005, headed by Dipolog City Philippine National Police Chief Tomas Hizon. In September, police arrested a suspect after a witness identified him as one of three gunmen. In November 2009, Dipolog City Judge Hipolito Bael Jr. convicted suspect Robert "Wangyu" Woo in the murder and sentenced him to a maximum imprisonment of 14 years and eight months.