The murder was brazen and swift: two men entered the home of Juan Jumalon in the town of Calamba in the southern Philippines while the radio journalist was broadcasting live on his on Sunday morning show on 94.7 Gold FM. News reports said that one of the gunmen held a member of Jumalon’s household staff at gunpoint while the other barged into the studio and fatally shot the journalist. Screengrabs from video of the shooting, which was livestreamed on Facebook before being taken down, show Jumalon slumped in his chair, his head tilted back, still wearing his red baseball cap.
The murder of Jumalon, 57, was the fourth killing of a journalist since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took office in June 2022. Another radio commentator, Cris Bunduquin, was fatally shot in May. According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, it was the 199th killing of a journalist since democracy was restored in the Philippines in 1986.
Those responsible for such killings usually evade justice. The Philippine group Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility reports that only 11 percent of work-related killings of journalists have resulted in convictions and very rarely are the masterminds apprehended. But aside from the threat to their lives, Filipino journalists also face assaults, intimidation, and harassment. This is very commonly done in the form of red-tagging, in which government officials and security personnel dangerously accuse journalists of having links to the Philippines’ long-running communist insurgency.
President Marcos, who quickly and commendably denounced the killing of Jumalon, should ensure that his murder, as well as the continuing attacks against journalists, are investigated thoroughly and impartially, and the perpetrators brought to justice.
As Marcos looks to garner support both at home and abroad, he should take this opportunity to demonstrate that his government is serious about press freedom, civil liberties, and human rights in the Philippines.