Two gunmen traveling by motorcycle fired several shots at Cuesta, a program director and anchor for DXMD, an affiliate of the Radio Mindanao Network, on a public street in General Santos City on August 4, according to news reports citing police.
Cuesta sustained multiple injuries, including a gunshot wound to the head, and died in a local hospital five days later, the reports said. A companion at the scene was unhurt, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). The Associated Press quoted an official saying there were three gunmen.
Cuesta's colleague, Mel Coronel, told AP that the journalist never recovered consciousness and died while in intensive care.
Local press freedom groups told CPJ they believe Cuesta was targeted for his reporting. Cuesta had been threatened in relation to his recent broadcasts, according to Dennievin Macaranas, a network operations manager who spoke with CPJ by telephone. The commentator had also recently applied for a firearm license and requested police protection, DPA reported. Police Superintendent Robert Po told DPA that a person involved in a land dispute had asked Cuesta to stop broadcasting critical commentaries about the case on the public affairs show he hosted.
A police officer was identified as one of the suspects in February 2009, but a judge later revoked the arrest warrant and archived the case, saying the suspect couldn't be found.