Broadcaster slain on-air; Marcos, DOJ vow justice

Broadcaster slain on-air; Marcos, DOJ vow justice

ILIGAN CITY, Lanao del Norte, Philippines — Radio broadcaster Juan Jumalon, known to his listeners as DJ Johnny Walker, was reading their greetings on-air at around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday when a man wearing a cap walked inside the announcer’s booth, shot him in the mouth and grabbed the 57-year-old victim’s gold necklace before fleeing.

Jumalon’s killing was seen in real-time by those listening to his popular Sunday program, “Pahapyod sa Kabuntagon” (Gentle Morning Touch), which was being streamed live on Facebook from his radio station at his home in Barangay Don Bernardo A. Neri, Calamba, Misamis Occidental province.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. condemned the killing and said he had ordered the police “to conduct a thorough investigation to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.”


The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it would conduct a thorough investigation into Jumalon’s murder, which it described as an “affront to the principles of democracy, freedom of expression, and the sanctity of a free press.”


A video circulating on social media showed Jumalon looking up at someone who had entered his studio. Shots then rang out, sending the victim slumping back in his seat, blood dripping from his mouth before he leaned to the right, a microphone blocking his face from the audience.

The police also retrieved from the scene footage taken by a closed-circuit television camera shortly before the shooting. It showed a man and a girl, believed to be members of the victim’s household, standing inside the garage and talking to someone outside the gate.

As the girl leaves the driveway, the man opens the gate, and two gun-toting suspects rush in. One of them forces the man to his knees while his companion enters the house. Within seconds, both suspects leave.

Captain Diore Libre Ragonio, Calamba municipal police station officer in charge, said they had identified three “persons of interest” in the crime — the two who entered the gate and a third who served as a lookout.

According to Patrolman Eliver Quico, Jumalon was hit in the lower lip with the bullet exiting through the back of his head. His family quickly brought him to the Calamba district hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Posting on X, Marcos said: “Attacks on journalists will not be tolerated in our democracy, and those who threaten the freedom of the press will face the full consequences of their actions.”


DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano also issued a statement on Sunday saying that “[W]e vow to spare no effort in ensuring a thorough investigation, the swift apprehension of the perpetrators, and their subsequent prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

He reiterated the DOJ’s “unwavering commitment to upholding press freedom and the safety of journalists,” adding that they would “work tirelessly to create an environment where journalists can carry out their essential work without fear of violence, harassment, or reprisals.”

The broadcaster’s killing was denounced as well by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) which said it was even more condemnable since it happened inside his house.

The group noted that Jumalon’s case was the 199th killing of media workers since 1986 and the fourth under the current administration.

Including Jumalon, three of the victims were radio broadcasters, the first being Negros Oriental-based Rey Blanco who was stabbed to death on Sept. 18, 2022. The suspect told the police that he was angry at Blanco for repeatedly criticizing him and his family on his radio program.

The other radio broadcaster was Cresenciano Aldovino Bundoquin, who was shot repeatedly in front of his store by motorcycle-riding men on May 31 this year in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

On Oct. 31, 2022, hard-hitting radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa was killed, supposedly upon the orders of former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag. Based on the findings of the police, Bantag reportedly wanted Mabasa dead for exposing alleged corruption at BuCor while he was director general.

His colleagues said Jumalon was not a hard-hitting journalist, as he never attacked personalities on his program, only airing greetings to energize his early morning listeners.

Dangerous media workplace

Jumalon’s murder happened just days after the commemoration of the International Day to End Impunity For Crimes Against Journalists.

In a recent report by a New York-based media watchdog, the Philippines remains a “dangerous” workplace for reporters, especially radio journalists, after landing in the list of countries with the “worst records” on prosecuting killers of journalists.

According to the 2023 Global Impunity Index by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the Philippines ranked eighth, which the NUJP observed was a “slight improvement” that was not deserving of praise.

“While Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has adopted a more conciliatory approach toward the media since becoming president in June 2022, CPJ reported that a culture of self-censorship persists and Marcos’ change in tone has not yet been accompanied by substantive actions to undo the damage wrought to press freedom under the Rodrigo Duterte administration,” the CPJ noted.

The latest killing prompted the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) to call for the immediate activation of a special investigation task group (SITG), which was among the agreed on protocols by agencies composing the task force.

The interagency body, created in 2016 through Duterte’s very first administrative order, consists of the interior and defense secretaries, the solicitor general, the Presidential Human Rights Committee executive director, the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police chiefs, and the National Bureau of Investigation director.

“Even as we extend our sympathy to the victim’s family and friends over this dastardly attack, we also call on the Misamis Occidental Police Office to immediately constitute its SITG to investigate this incident and apprehend the suspect and others possibly involved in the interest of justice,” said PTFoMS Executive Director Paul Gutierrez.

While the motive of the suspects has yet to be established, Gutierrez said they “consider this incident as ‘work-related’ for the moment.”

Other media groups also denounced the killing, with the Pampanga Press Club saying that although it happened in Mindanao, “we believe that the protection of media practitioners—similar to the expression of solidarity—should know no bounds, thus, must be of primordial concern of everyone.”

“We appeal to authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of this dastardly act,” it said in a statement.

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“We express our deepest concern and unequivocal condemnation of this brazen act of violence against a member of the media. Attacks on journalists are not only attacks on the individuals themselves but are [also] a grave assault to the fundamental principles of human rights, press freedom, and democracy itself,” Mindanao Independent Press Council president Edith Caduaya said.

TAGS: attacks on journalists, DJ Johnny Walker, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Juan Jumalon, slain journalists

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