CAGAYAN de Oro City (Mike Baños / Oct 9) – A task force organized by the Cagayan de Oro Press Club to probe the shooting of a colleague believes it is linked to organized crime dealing in illegal drugs and gambling.
SURVIVOR. Pantoja shows the cartographic sketch of the gunman in a press conference held at the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC).
Three armed men aboard a motorcycle shot Jose C. Pantoja , a radio blocktimer in Iligan City early Monday morning near the Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) as he was having some documents photocopied.
Mr. Pantoja is the host of the radio program " Isumbong mo kay Joe Pantoja" aired daily over dxLS Love Radio. He was shot three times with a .45 –caliber pistol and sustained gunshot wounds in the intestines and liver.
"Police sources have told COPC's Task Force Pantoja that the surveillance camera used to monitor traffic in the area was turned off at the time of the shooting, but only for this particular area ," said former COPC president Herbie Gomez.
"We have reason to believe a powerful politician may have given the sanction against Joe Pantoja. The Iligan city hall must find out and tell us why the cam was not functioning at that time."
Contrary to earlier reports, there were three, and not two assailants and they did not wear bonnets. At least ten people witnessed the shooting.
The Iligan City Police Office under Police Sr. Supt. Virgilio Ranes has come up with artists sketches of the three suspects based on witnesses accounts. One of the suspects has been identified as Romeo Ragasajo y Maglasang of Zone Pisces II, Suaraez, Iligan City. However, all three eluded arrest and remain at large as of presstime.
Mr. Pantoja ran for city councilor in the last elections but did not make it. He openly supported a politician from a nearby province who was opposed by another political figure who has been rumored to be linked to illegal drugs and gambling in Iligan and Lanao.
Although Mr. Pantoja reportedly gained consciousness Tuesday morning, he remains under heavy police guard in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital following a direct request of COPC President Jerry Orcullo to Police Regional Office 10 Regional Director Chief Supt. Teodorico Capuyan.
From San Francisco, California , former COPC President Ben Emata expressed his sadness at the shooting of his colleague in the press club.
"We must not leave a single stone unturned for the arrest of the suspects. Joe was a member of good standing of the Cagayan de Oro media and I know him very well. He was so young when he joined the media. I used to give him tips on how to write and report news items as well as the ethics of journalism. He was a friend and an asset to the COPC. I hope he will survive in his predicament and tell his story about the crime. This is the first to happen to our member. Please let us unite always and fight the enemies of press freedom."
In a press conference called by Task Force Pantoja at the COPC office Tuesday morning, former COPC President said the Pantoja shooting marked the first time in fifty six years that a journalist has been directly attacked in Region 10.