In a statement, Herbie Gomez, COPC corporate secretary and past president, said they formed “Task Force Pantoja” and immediately sent a team to Iligan City today for a fact-finding mission. The team, composed of COPC officials and members, “will document the Pantoja case and will report its findings soon,” Gomez said.
According to the statement, Pantoja, a blocktimer at DxLS-Love Radio FM and host of the daily program, “Isumbong mo kay Joe Pantoja” (Report to Joe Pantoja), “was reportedly shot thrice around 6:45 am shortly after he brought his son to a school near his residence.”
Gomez told MindaNews that according to Pantoja’s wife, Grace, the radio commentator had been declared out of danger by doctors.
The COPC statement quoted Iligan police chief, Senior Supt. Virgilio Ranes, as saying Pantoja was shot at close range by “one of two bonnet-wearing men” who fled on a blue Yamaha DT motorcycle.
“We have enough reason to believe that the attack was work-related given reports that Pantoja has been receiving death threats apparently because of his sharp on-air criticisms against corruption in government, and local illegal gambling operations that are allegedly being bankrolled by a powerful politician,” the COPC said.
The COPC also urged government to “protect Mr. Pantoja who is recuperating in an Iligan hospital as of this writing” as his assailants may attempt to finish him off.
Gomez said the COPC team had reported that policemen were deployed outside the Intensive Care Unit where Pantoja was.
“These senseless attacks–and killings–must stop. We demand swift action from law enforcement groups in bringing Mr. Pantoja’s attackers to justice. We want to see the heartless culprits prosecuted and jailed. Unless we make attacks on media a high-risk criminal undertaking in this country, we are afraid there will see more Pantojas,” the COPC said.
“The attack on Pantoja is an affront to the COPC and to the Philippine Free Press. We will not go silently into the night without putting up a fight for our fundamental right to free expression and free speech,” the COPC said.