March 4, 2024

I have heard and learned in the past about the sorry plight of journalists and broadcasters being helplessly gunned down and mercilessly murdered by assassins and gunmen. Yet, none is more gruesome and more graphic than the latest killing of radio broadcaster Juan Jumalon last Sunday.
Jumalon, more popularly known by his alias DJ Johnny Walker, is the broadcaster of “Pahapyod sa Kabuntagon,” a live-streaming FM program aired on Facebook every Sunday morning from 5 a.m. onwards. I have seen the program a couple of times and find nothing offensive in it as it is more about giving advices concerning the affairs of the heart and playing good old melodic love songs much like the program of Dr. Love on Teleradyo. Hence, it comes as a surprise that a not-so-hard hitting announcer in the mold of DJ Johnny Walker would be killed.
Perhaps, Jumalon, too, had no idea that he had offended somebody to the extent that he would be killed while on air.
As seen live by his listeners and later, as replayed on various Internet sites which went viral, the DJ was making his usual morning greetings to his patrons when a man wearing a blue hat and a white raincoat casually walked towards his booth and without any warning, shot him twice in the mouth.
As Jumalon was slowly writhing in the agony of his death, the assailant shamelessly grabbed his necklace and loped off towards the exit door, unafraid that he just committed an unforgivable sin.
So viral and so visual was the killing that even international and giant media outfits like the British Broadcasting Company and the Cable News Network devoted precious airtime to broadcast it.
The attention given to the killing of Jumalon so caught up the imagination of the world that even President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Jr., who usually is silent about private killings, immediately took hold of the matter and ordered a thorough investigation.
He gave a marching order to law enforcement agencies to solve the crime at the soonest possible time by sparing no resource to nab the culprits and bring them to the bar of justice.
Two issues are always debated every time a journalist like Jumalon dies. First is the issue of press freedom and second is the issue on the death penalty.
When a broadcaster or an announcer is killed, it eventually amounts to the curtailment of the freedom of speech. For why else will personalities who criticize and minimize the scandals and dirty linens of well-known and not-so-well-known personalities be silenced? This, therefore, brings into question the issue on the death penalty.
Of course, any senseless killing of a human being is wrong. But to see on live television the killing of an innocent journalist is as much heinous as rape, murder, and selling illegal drugs. If prosecuted and solved, it should merit the highest available penalty. As of now, our statutes are in suspended animation when it comes to the imposition of the death penalty. In the light of the gruesome killing of Jumalon, is it time to revive the death penalty?
We cannot deny the fact that criminals are becoming bolder and more daring when it comes to the perpetration of crimes. They are no longer afraid of the consequences of their actions. And, notwithstanding that they are aware that they are on live CCTV, they pursue their crimes to the hilt. Their punishment should be commensurate with their dastardly act. What better way to show them that the law is serious by imposing the death penalty.