Mindoro veteran broadcaster Cresenciano Aldovino Bunduquin, known for his commentary programs, was gunned down by two unidentified motorcyclists on the morning of May 31. In a report by PNP Mimaropa, Bunduquin was opening his sari-sari store when it happened.
Bunduquin, 50, has been in the journalism industry for 15 years. He was also known as a host on dwXR 101.7 Kalahi FM and online radio MUX. According to Jester Joaquin, dwXR Station Manager, the slain journalist often discussed government issues without holding back criticism and said that he was “hard-hitting” on such topics.
“He told me before that he’s receiving threats but he didn’t elaborate… He mentioned to me that he wanted a change in his line of work. That’s why he put up a chicken farm because he wants to go quiet,” Joaquin said in a statement with Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The journalist’s son was able to hit the gunmen’s vehicle and kill one of the attackers, while the other was able to flee the scene. Oriental Mindoro Police Colonel Samuel Delorino mentioned that hot-pursuit operations to find the remaining perpetrator is currently ongoing. ₱50,000, pledged by an undisclosed individual, will be rewarded to anyone with leads on the suspect.
Bunduquin’s death isn't the only one of the same nature. According to data from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), 198 media workers have been killed since 1986. In the 2022 Press Freedom index, a ranking that measures the level of press freedom in each country, the Philippines ranked 147th out of 180 countries.
Two’s a coincidence, three’s a pattern
In the timeline of journalist killings under the Marcos administration, the murder of Negros broadcaster Rey Blanco was the first to happen. The Power102.1 DYRY RFM anchorman was attacked from behind and stabbed to death on September 18, 2022. It was speculated that a politically-motivated grudge was the reason behind his murder. The suspect voluntarily surrendered himself to the police and is now detained.
Less than a month thereafter, journalist and Marcos critic Percival Carag Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorcycle on October 3, 2022, as he was on his way driving home. “In the span of 35 years, he was removed by radio stations nearly 100 times because of his brand of commentary,” Roy Mabasa, Lapid’s brother, said. The death of the former DWBL host fueled further outrage among activists against the current administration.
Meanwhile, Jonathan de Santos, chairman of the NUJP, expressed his dissent against the current administration, and found it ironic and infuriating that Filipino journalists aren’t safe in their own country.
“When perpetrators of attacks on media are not held to account and victims of these attacks do not get justice, future attacks become more likely,” he said.
To silence journalists is to silence the voice of democracy
With World Press Freedom Day celebrated just last month, we look back at the #DefendPressFreedom movement as we stand in solidarity with our unfazed journalists amidst the red-tagging and libel-charging of it all. To have a written constitutional right to press freedom is one thing, to practice it fully is another.
Let us continue to defend press freedom. Independent journalism signifies the level of democracy a nation has.