Murder raps filed vs Pangasinan radioman's killers

MANILA – The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said murder charges have been filed against three suspects in connection with the killing of former Pangasinan news reporter and broadcaster Virgilio S. Maganes.

Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, PTFoMS Executive Director, announced this latest development right after the successful launching of the webinar series on press freedom sponsored by the task force on March 24.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar, who is also PTFoMS co-chair, lauded the PTFoMS staff, the National Prosecution Service, and the local police for the quick resolution of the Maganes killing.

"I commend the PTFoMS, the DOJ, the PNP (Philippine National Police), and everyone who worked overtime in accomplishing the mission this early. We are very grateful for your swift work in bringing to justice these suspects for their heinous crime," said Andanar, who was one of the webinar’s guests of honor.

Egco, for his part, said that “Indeed, the culture of impunity against journalists that once persisted in our country for decades has now ended thanks to the inter-agency task force created by President Rodrigo Duterte.”

“No killer of media worker will go unpunished under my watch and the men and women who comprise the task force,” Egco added.

Maganes was a longtime friend of Egco.

Citing the resolution issued by Senior Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Charlotte M. Duron-Cabida of the Provincial Prosecution Office of Pangasinan, and approved by Provincial Prosecutor Abraham L. Ramos II, a finding of probable cause was found against suspects Noe Pelle Ducay alias “Owing”, Romar Bustillos and one “John Doe” for the crime of murder.

Duron-Cabida said in her exhaustive eight-page findings corroborated by police investigators and eyewitnesses, “respondent Bustillos acted as point man by texting someone on his cellular phone, he signaled to respondent Ducay, the trigger man of the presence of Virgilio who is about to enter the compound of his residence” on that fateful day.

Egco gave special commendations to the prosecutor and investigators of the Villasis Police Station who formed Task Force Maganes for their “immediate intervention and continuous investigation” of the Maganes slaying. This led to the apprehension of the suspects in December, barely a month has passed after the incident.

On Nov. 10, 2020, Maganes was shot dead at around 6:45 a.m. while walking near his home in Licsab, Barangay San Blas, Villasis, Pangasinan by two men “riding-in-tandem” aboard a motorcycle, one of which is believed to be Ducay.

Maganes previously survived an attempt on his life Nov. 8, 2016 by feigning death.

Meanwhile, Egco said the PTFoMS shall relentlessly protect media workers with the launching of a webinar series entitled “Moving 4Ward: Safeguarding Press Freedom during the Covid-19 Pandemic and the 2022 Elections Season” on March 24 with CNN’s Dr. Freddie Gomez and veteran journalist Melo Acuña as resource speakers.

The monthly webinar is meant to intensify the campaign of the Duterte administration to protect the life, liberty and security of media workers during the pandemic and the upcoming election season. (PR)