Death threats come true for Iligan radio commentator

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/31 August)- Slain radio commentator Fernando “Nanding” Solijon of DXLS-Love Radio had received so many death threats apparently due to his journalistic work, the police and his wife confirmed.

Solijon was so concerned of his safety that he even asked his friends to close the doors of the sari-sari store where they were drinking so they could not be seen from the outside that fateful Thursday night.

With lots of death threats, he felt it was wise that nobody from the outside could see him and fellow radio reporters Dario Navales and Alvin Suan drinking inside the store in Purok 1, Barangay Buruun in Iligan City, said Chief Insp. Isralene Lauren, of Task Force Solijon created to investigate the killing.

“That was his fatal mistake. Although it’s true that nobody can see them [from the outside], they could not also see that the suspects were already outside the store waiting for Solijon to appear,” Lauren said.

Martin Ongon, a watchman at the nearby Iligan City National School of Fisheries, said he noticed the two killers of Solijon were already waiting for their victim as early as 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Because he did not find it unusual, Ongon said he did not mind the presence of the two suspects who were on a white-striped blue Honda XRM motorcycle.

“The suspects would sometimes leave and would come back a few minutes later. There was nothing unusual in their movements. They parked their motorcycle beside Solijon’s car, “ the watchman narrated.

Solijon came out from the sari-sari store at about 10 p.m. Thursday and walked toward his white Kia Rio car, which was parked just across the street.

Marivic Magsayo, a resident, said she heard three gunshots thundered in their quiet neighborhood.

“I peeped outside my window and saw a gunman wearing a motorcycle (face) mask standing over a body slumped to the ground,” Magsayo said

Magsayo said the gunman fired five more shots at the fallen Solijon before leaving the crime scene.

“The gunman was cursing at Solijon’s body before he and his companion left the scene,” she said.


Members of the Iligan media pay their last respects to radio commentator Fernando Solijon, who was killed by two suspects in Barangay Buru-un, Iligan City on Thursday night, Aug. 29 MindaNews photo  by Froilan Gallardo

Chief Insp. Lauren said they found eight empty caliber .45 shells and a slug from the crime scene.

Joseph Ben Deveza, media safety officer in Mindanao of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), said that if Solijon’s death is proven to be work-related, he would be the 159th journalist killed since democracy was restored in the Philippines in 1986.

“Two-thirds of those who were killed are Mindanao-based journalists,” Deveza said.

He said that impunity reigns in some parts of Mindanao due to the presence of warlords and intense political rivalries, making it “a dangerous place for community journalists to work.”

Rudy Catubay, station manager of DXLS-Love Radio, which is an affiliate of the Manila Broadcasting Corp., said he believes the killing of the 47-year old Solijon was work-related.

Catubay said the murdered radio commentator was known for his hard-hitting commentaries, and he believed that his killers “were among those who were hit by Solijon’s fiery criticisms.”

He said Love Radio station employed Solijon since 2007 and he hosted Sandiganan which airs five times a week.

“Solijon did not spare anyone. Town mayors and other local officials were all subjected to his fiery criticisms,” Catubay said.

Death threats

He said Solijon has been receiving numerous threats by phone and letters apparently from those angered by his commentaries.

Solijon’s wife Mely confirmed that her husband had been receiving death threats that became more glaring before the May 13 national midterm and local elections.

Mely said the threats prompted Solijon to very cautious and on his 47th birthday last June 30, her husband thanked God for letting him lived that much.

She recalled that somebody even poured a can of paint remover on the hood of her husband’s car while it was parked downtown, apparently out of anger at him.

“I have received calls from female callers warning that my husband will not see Christmas. I guess they made good their threat,” Mely said.

Mely said hours after Solijon died last Thursday night, she received a phone call asking if her husband has been confirmed dead.

Solijon was survived by his 44-year-old wife Mely and 19-year old daughter, Jed, a second year hotel and restaurant management student at the Iligan Medical College.

Iligan lone district Rep. Vicente “Varf” Belmonte has offered a P300,000 bounty for the arrest of the killers of Solijon.

Solijon is a known supporter of Belmonte, according to NUJP. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)