DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 October) – Veteran radio broadcaster Mario Maximo “Dodong” Solis, Jr., general manager of 94.7 Radyo ni Juan, has ‘signed off.’
Solis, who would have turned 59 on November 18, was rushed to the Southern Philippines Medical Center at 7 p.m. on Monday and succumbed to cardiac arrest at 2 a.m. Tuesday, his sister in law La Donna Solis, said on Wednesday.
Reports about Solis’ death had spread in the city and on social media Tuesday but no confirmation was issued by the family or the station until late Wednesday.
Roy Geonzon, station manager of 819 DXUM and incumbent Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP)-Davao City chair, said he looked up to Solis as one of the pillars of radio broadcasting in the city.
“Another broadcaster has permanently ‘signed off.’ I pray for his eternal repose and I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to his family,” he said.
Antonio Ajero, editor-in-chief of Edge Davao, told MindaNews that when he was station manager of DXMC decades ago, Solis, then a work scholar of the University of Mindanao, joined them. “Then he transferred to DXDC RMN as reporter /staff announcer and became station manager. It was when he was manager when he became the union president and led a strike. Then Radyo ni Juan was established.”
He recalled Solis joining then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in burning a replica of the Singapore flag after Filipino worker Flor Contemplacion was executed in March 1995 in Singapore.
Solis was a friend and close ally of the President, Ajero added.
“The fallen broadcaster and the then Davao City mayor shared a strong opinion against the hanging of Flor Contemplacion. Goodbye Dodong! We will miss you dearly,” Ajero said in a media chat group.
Duterte’s daughter Sara and son Paolo lashed out at Solis in 2017 in their Facebook posts in reaction to his commentary that the wounding and later death of a fish vendor during an attack of the New People’s Army on Lapanday Foods Corporation (LFC) was being used to divert the public’s attention from the fact that the husband of the mayor (Sara) and brother-in-law of the vice mayor (Paolo) was the lawyer of the firm that farmers had protested against.
Ajero described Solis as a “gentle soul and fast learner” whose social consciousness blossomed, he said, when he headed DXDC’s labor union. At Radyo ni Juan, Ajero said, Solis continued to practice his “pro-people beliefs and convictions.”
Peter Laviña, former councilor who served as head of the National Irrigation Administration from November 2016 to February 2017, remembers Solis as an “unwavering fighter for the masses.”
Kath Cortez, reporter of Davao Today and former news director of Radyo ni Juan, remembers Solis as a “strict boss,” who kept pushing his colleagues to go beyond the limits.
“We always had different opinions and ways of handling RNJ reporters back then. If your boss is Dodong Solis, the great pressure is always there. He will challenge your capacity and patience all the time. He will always ask why,” she said.
Cortez said she was grateful to have trained under a “great teacher” who molded her to be “tough and firm.”
She said Solis proved that he was a cut above the rest when he sat as anchor for his station’s coverage of the bloody April 1, 2016 dispersal in Kidapawan City. Some 5,000 drought-affected farmers from various parts of North Cotabato barricaded the national highway from March 30 until they were dispersed on April 1. The farmers demanded, among others, the release of 15,000 sacks of rice as calamity assistance.
At least two farmers were killed and scores of protesters, police and fire department personnel wounded. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)