Gunmen on Motorbike Kill Philippine Radio Journalist

Jojo Rinoza and Nonoy Espina
Dagupan and Bacolod, Philippines
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201110-PH-Maganes-1000.jpg Police crime-scene personnel inspect the body of slain Filipino journalist Vigilio Maganes, 62, in Villasis, Pangasinan province, Nov. 10, 2020.
[Handout photo released by Police Regional Office 1, Philippine National Police]

A Filipino radio reporter was killed in a drive-by shooting near his home in the northern Philippines on Tuesday, after having survived an attempt on his life in 2016, according to information from police and a journalists’ union.

Virgilio Maganes, 62, was about to enter his residential compound in Villasis, a town in Pangasinan province, when two men on a motorcycle rode up and shot him multiple times, the police said in an incident report. The assailants fired a pair of bullets to the head that killed Maganes instantly, the report said.

The hard-hitting reporter worked for community radio station dwPR as well as a regional weekly, Northern Watch. Maganes was the 19th Philippine journalist to be slain since Rodrigo Duterte became president in mid-2016 and the 190th one murdered since dictator Ferdinand Marcos fell in 1986, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

“We demand that authorities work fast to solve his death, which could be related to the botched attempt on his life on November 8, 2016, when motorcycle-riding gunmen fired at him as he rode a tricycle,” the NUJP said in a statement.

“This incident remains unsolved and Vir apparently remained unprotected,” the group added, referring to the 2016 shooting. “This did not, however, stop him from continuing to work as a journalist.”

No one has been arrested for the 2016 incident.

Maganes was a member of the NUJP, an organization which has questioned some of Duterte’s policies, including his government’s shut-down of leading Manila-based broadcaster ABS-CBN Corp. and the conviction on libel charges of Maria Ressa, head of online publication Rappler and a former CNN journalist.

The NUJP vowed to seek justice for all colleagues who were killed “as we continue our struggle for genuine freedom of the press and of expression in our country.”

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security, a government agency appointed by Duterte to investigate killings of journalists, condemned Tuesday’s attack and vowed to “hunt down and punish those responsible.”

It directed the regional police to speed up the investigation, officials with the task force said. No motive for the attack has been established.

The task force “is on top of the situation and is closely coordinating with Maganes’ family, friends and local police officials to learn more details about the incident,” said Joel Sy Egco, the task force’s executive director who was also a friend of the victim.

“In fact, I will oversee the investigation personally and conduct a case conference before visiting the wake,” Egco said.


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