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Radio commentator shot dead in southern Philippines

UPDATE from CMFR: Police officer tagged in radio broadcaster's killing (4 November 2013)

In the sixth case of its kind this year, two men riding tandem on a motorcycle shot dead a radio commentator in Iligan City on 29 August 2013. Iligan City in Mindanao Island is some 1,400 kilometers south of Manila.

Radio commentator Fernando "Nanding" Solijon was shot multiple times at around 10:30 p.m., on the night of Thursday 29 August. Solijon was about to leave his friend, radio commentator Alvin Suan, in Buru-un village after dinner and beer when he was shot several times, according to the police.

Solijon is the 17th media practitioner killed in the line of duty under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, and the 6th killed in 2013.

Salijon hosted the program Sandiganan ('someone to lean on') which aired 7:30 to 9 a.m., weekdays on dxLS Love Radio 107.1.

The police said they are not sure if Solijon received death threats prior to the killing. Solijon's wife, Mely, had not yet turned over Solijon's cell phone to the police, as of 30 August. But Solijon's technician, Christopher Dapo, confirmed to CMFR on 30 August that there was a death threat sent to Solijon via SMS. Solijon read the threat on the air during his last broadcast. A listener then called the program and cursed Solijon.

Dapo also said in a follow-up interview with CMFR that the local media would hold a protest against the killing in the afternoon of 2 September 2013.

Solijon was shot at least 13 times. Investigator Senior Police Officer Melvin Denore told CMFR in a phone interview on 30 August that the faces of the gunmen were covered. They escaped on a blue and white motorcycle.

"It was really work-related," Denore said. "He was a famous commentator talking about politics. That's not a safe thing (to do) here in Mindanao."

Denore said in a press conference that Iligan police city director Colonel Cristeto Rey Gonzalodo had created an investigative task force to solve the killing. Iligan representative Vicente "Varf" Belmote offered a P300,000 reward (about USD6,700) to anyone who can give information that will lead to the suspects' arrest.

DxLS anchor Bobby Bariga told CMFR on 30 August that Solijon last discussed Iligan City mayor Celso Regencia's alleged purchase of an expensive house and lot and a car, but that there were other politicians Solijon was at odds with during the elections. Bariga agreed that Solijon was close to city representative Belmonte, but said that Belmonte and Regencia were not known to be enemies.

Bariga added that on Solijon's last broadcast on 29 August, someone had threatened Solijon, saying "Your coffin's already made."

He added that Mayor Regencia also offered a reward for any information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators. Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro reported the amount of the bounty as P450,000 (some USD10,000).

Another commentator from dxLS Love Radio was also under threat earlier this year. In March 2013, relatives of then gubernatorial candidate Casan Maquiling assaulted blocktimer Lino dela Cruz inside the radio station for dela Cruz's allegedly "negative" commentaries.

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