Jose “Joe” Pantoja, a block-timer commentator of DXLS radio station, was shot five times in his abdomen at around 7:15 a.m. by two assailants who were on aboard a motorcycle. Pantoja was on his way to photocopy documents in a copier center in front MSU-IIT after sending his daughter to school.
Pantoja co-hosted with two women, a radio program dubbed “Katawhan Alagaran” (Serve the People).
Ranes said a complaint for frustratrade murder had been filed with the City Prosecutor’s Office at 11:20 a.m.
He said there are five witnesses who can identify the suspects.
Ranes told a press conference at the PNP Iligan central office that suspects were Romeo Ragasajo and Romeo Vequiso.
“A pursuit operation was launched yesterday but due to heavy rain, suspects were able to escape while operatives were on their way,” he added.
Police records showed Pantoja is facing a number of libel cases and was entrapped for extortion years ago.
“Some of these libel cases were dismissed,” said a police officer.
The investigation was done by Task Force Usig in partnership with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and National Bureau of Investigation and the local police force.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said “the proximate cause of Pantoja’s case is politics but the immediate cause is Personal.”
Msgr. Jemar Vera Cruz, vicar general of Iligan diocese and chair of the Movement for Truth, Justice and Peace (MTJP), condemned the shooting.
“We condemn this act and should not be condoned,” he said.
Vera Cruz described Pantoja as “a man of many enemies” but added that “in this democratic society, any anger (over) his commentaries should not be directed to violence. It should be resolved in a peaceful manner. The church is for active non-violence.”
“The life of every journalist or reporter must be protected,” Vera Cruz added.
“Pantoja sustained five wounds in his abdomen,” said Dr. Abner dela Cruz, attending physician at the Sanitarium Hospital of Iligan.
Pantoja has been a staunch critic of city officials on issues relating to graft and corruption as well as of recently proclaimed 1st District Congressman Varf Belmonte.
“In many occasion, Pantoja’s commentaries border on the libelous but that shouldn’t be a reason to shoot him,” commented city councilor Ariel Anghay.
Pantoja has publicly acknowledged he is a spokesperson of Imelda Dimaporo, three-term governor who ran for 1st district representative but lost to Belmonte. He also publicly acknowledged his radio block time was sponsored by the Dimaporo family.