The International Press Institute (IPI) strongly condemns the on-air killing of Filipino radio journalist Juan Jumalon, which unfolded during a live broadcast. IPI calls on authorities to carry out a transparent and comprehensive investigation into the killing and hold the perpetrators to account.

On November 5, 2023, Juan Jumalon, also known as DJ Johnny Walker, was fatally shot while broadcasting from his home-based studio in Calamba, Philippines. His death represents the fourth journalist killed since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr took office in June 2022, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

The assailant gained access to Jumalon’s studio by pretending to make an on-air announcement and fled the scene after the attack. While the motives remain unclear, the Philippine Presidential Task Force on Media Security said it was currently treating the killing as “work-related”. Authorities, however, reported no prior threats against Jumalon’s life.

The NUJP denounced the incident as a “brazen killing,” emphasizing the risks journalists face in the Philippines. Furthermore, President Marcos condemned the murder and called for action to bring the perpetrators to justice. “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,” he said, highlighting the importance of a free press in a democratic society.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines reported that Jumalon is the 199th journalist to be killed since the restoration of democracy in 1986. This incident emphasizes the risks journalists face in the Philippines, which has long been one of the most dangerous places for media workers.

“The shocking killing of Jumalon is a reminder of the grave dangers faced by journalists in the Philippines”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “This horrendous act underscores the urgent need for authorities in the Philippines to step up efforts to safeguard journalist safety and end the cycle of impunity that endangers journalists’ lives. We call on law enforcement to carry out a swift, thorough, and transparent investigation into the killing of Juan Jumalon and hold those responsible to account.”

Amid the presidential transition from Rodrigo Duterte to Bongbong Marcos, the media community in the Philippines hoped for a safer environment for journalists. However, this optimism has been overshadowed by continued incidents targeting journalists. In 2022, the Philippines witnessed the shootings of several radio presenters, including Jhannah Villegas, Federico ‘Ding’ Gempesaw, Rey Blanco, and Percival ‘Percy Lapid’ Mabasa. The situation did not improve in 2023.

Prior to the killing of Jumalon, radio broadcaster Cresenciano Bunduquin was shot outside his home on May 31, 2023. These events underscore the persistent challenges and dangers faced by journalists in the Philippines, despite hopes for a more secure media environment under the new leadership.