LEGAZPI CITY – The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol through the Sorsogon provincial police office created on Tuesday a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the killing of an online media practitioner in Sorsogon City on Monday.

Col. Roque Bausa, Sorsogon police provincial director, said “Task Force Bercasio” was formed to dig deeper into the shooting to death of Jobert “Polpog” Bercasio by riding in tandem gunmen inside a subdivision.

He said the 10-man SIT would conduct a full investigation on the possible motive behind the killing of the anchorman of an on-line live streaming program including the identity of the gunmen and mastermind.

Bausa said the creation of Task Force Bercasio was in line with Sorsogon Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s directive to conduct a thorough probe on the incident and to relentlessly pursue the perpetrators.

“I condemn in the strongest possible words the killing of Joebert Bercasio last night,” Escudero said in a statement. “Any attack or the killing of a journalist is also an attack on the very same freedom that we swore to uphold and protect. My sincerest sympathies to the family and loved ones of Joebert.”

Lt. Col. Benito Dipad, Sorsogon City chief of police, in a phone interview said investigators are still pursuing leads and gathering testimonies from possible witnesses who might shed light on the killing.

Dipad said that at around 7:55 p.m., Bercasio, while negotiating a road near XTRM Sea-Breeze Homes Subdivision in Barangay Cabid-an on board his motorcycle, was attacked by riding in tandem suspects.

The suspects, reportedly armed with high-caliber firearms, shot the victim four times at the back, killing him instantly.

Dipad said investigators found spent shells from an M16 rifle at the crime scene.

Major Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of Police Regional Office-5 (PRO-5), on Tuesday said the SIT “will mobilize all means possible within the limits of the law to investigate and identify the culprit of the incident and to give justice to the bereaved family”.

She said Task Force Bercasio will be headed by Lt. Col. Joceric dela Peña, deputy police provincial director for operation.

Calubaquib said that Brig. Gen. Bartolome Bustamante, PRO-5 director, has ordered the regional Anti-Cyber Crime Unit 5 to conduct examination on the social media account of the victim and his recent posts as part of the ongoing investigation.

At the time of his death, Bercasio was affiliated with Balangibog News Online portal.

His killing brought to two the number of media personalities killed in Sorsogon this year and to 11 in the entire Bicol in a span of two decades.

In Albay, the media persons killed in the past include radio anchors Joey Llana of DWZR, John Villanueva of DZGB, Claire Domingo of a military radio station, Jose Loreno of DZRC, and Ruel Endrinal of DWRL.

In Camarines Sur, media killings that have remained unsolved were those of Ronaldo “Anjo” Julia of DZGE in Naga City in 2008; Miguel Belen of DWEB, Iriga City in 2010; and Romeo Olea of DWEB in 2011.

In the island province of Masbate, police records showed the unsolved killings of radio anchormen Nelson Nader and Joaquin “Jun” Briones, while in Catanduanes, the case of Larry Que is still being investigated. (PNA / Mar Serrano and Connie Calipay)