An unidentified gunman forcibly entered journalist Orlando “Dondon” Dinoy’s apartment in Bansalan, in the southern Philippines, on October 30, 2021, and shot him six times, killing him at the scene, according to news reports.
A police investigation into his killing showed that Dinoy had ran to his apartment from a nearby gate where the gunman started firing shots, according to a Rappler report. The gunman then barged into his apartment and fired the fatal shots, the Rappler report said.
Dinoy worked as a reporter for the local publication Newsline Philippines and as a news anchor for radio station Energy FM, according to a statement shared on Facebook by Newsline Philippines.
The Presidential Task Force for Media Security, a government body tasked with solving media killings, and composed of law enforcement agencies including the National Police, said in an October 31, 2021, statement posted on its Facebook page that police investigators had “strong leads” on a suspect, without elaborating.
The statement said that Dinoy “was not a hard-hitting broadcaster or reporter” and that the journalist had “an altercation with another person” prior to the attack. It also said that people had urged Dinoy to run for vice-mayor of Bansalan.
On November 11, 2021, provincial police director Colonel Giusseppe Geralde said witness testimony helped investigators to identify the gunman and a companion who served as a lookout, according to the Philippine Inquirer. He said the gunman and accomplice were known to be “hired killers.”
Geralde said the investigation was focused on Dinoy’s supposedly offensive social media posts and his alleged involvement in illegal cockfights, that report said.
On November 15, 2021, the task force released another statement saying that a murder charge had been filed against suspect Brandie Mercado Campaner, alias Bos-Bos, at the Davao del Sur provincial prosecutor’s office. CPJ was unable to find any contact information or public statements by Campaner regarding the case.
The task force’s executive director, Joel Egco, called for an extensive manhunt across the southern island of Mindanao for Campaner, and said that eyewitnesses to the crime would be referred to the Department of Justice’s witness protection program.
Egco also said that investigators were pursuing three possible motives for the killing, the strongest of which he said was a “personal grudge in relation to the victim’s other endeavors outside of his work as a reporter.”
Newsline Philippines publisher Editha Caduaya told CPJ via email that her newsroom had determined that Dinoy’s death "was not related to press freedom" but instead due to his associations with local politicians and people involved in cockfighting.
She said Dinoy maintained three Facebook accounts that Newsline Philippines was not aware of, which were "used to attack illegal gambling operators” and political rivals.
CPJ found and reviewed Facebook and Instagram accounts seemingly operated by Dinoy, neither of which posted frequently or had any information about cockfights. CPJ was unable to locate or review the other accounts referenced by Caduaya.
Dinoy’s family complained in a Rappler report about not getting clear answers from authorities about the status of Dinoy’s case a year after his killing.
“We have yet to get an update from police investigators,” said Carmelita Dinoy, the killed journalist’s mother at an event marking the one year anniversary of his murder as quoted by Rappler.
In late August 2023, the task force supplied CPJ with updated information on Dinoy’s case, which it recategorized as related to his work as a journalist. The task force’s information said Campaner was still at large as of the end of September 2023.
Paul Gutierrez, the task force’s executive director, told CPJ in a September 12, 2023 email that Dinoy’s case had been “archived” and that it would be considered “ongoing” until the suspect was apprehended.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, a local press freedom advocacy group, told CPJ by email in September 2023 that it considered Dinoy’s killing related to his journalism and that it was still investigating the circumstances of his murder.
CPJ repeatedly called the Bansalan police station for comment, but no one answered.