Malacañang condemns killing of Pangasinan broadcaster, vows swift justice

Julmunir I. Jannaral

Virgilio Sarmiento Maganes. (FB)

MALACANANG PALACE, Manila

Malacañang strongly condemned the killing of radio announcer Virgilio Sarmiento Maganes on Tuesday morning in Villasis, Pangasinan, assuring to hunt down and punish those responsible in what it described as act of cowardice.

In a statement, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said Maganes was shot several times at around 6:45 am while walking near his home in Licsab, Brgy. San Blas, Villasis, Pangasinan by two motorbike-riding gunmen, who remained unidentified.

Maganes, a veteran broadcaster of DWPR Radio Station Dagupan City, just turned 62 last November 7. He died on the spot where responding investigators recovered six (6) empty shells of caliber 45, the PTFoMS said.

“We are deeply saddened by the untimely death of Virgilio Maganes and extend our sincerest condolences to his family,” PTFoMS Executive Director Joel Sy Egco said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary and PTFoMS Co-Chair Martin Andanar said the Duterte government “condemns any type of killing, especially those in the media.

Andanar said he tasked Director Egco to “swiftly act on this and personally handle this matter,” referring to Maganes’  slay.

He has also asked the Philippine National Police to go after the perpetrators and masterminds in the killing and bring them to justice.

The PTFoMS chief was informed of the incident just a few minutes after it happened, prompting him coordinate with PNP PRO1 Brig. Gen. Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr. and local PNP officials.

Egco said they were looking at all angles to determine the motive for the killing.

“PTFoMS 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. In fact, I will oversee the investigation personally and conduct case conference before visiting the wake”, Egco added. Maganes was a personal friend of Egco.

“This cowardly killing in the midst of a pandemic is unforgivable. We will get to the bottom of this and will stop at nothing in identifying and hunting down the people behind this despicable crime. It will be just a matter of time before these murderers will be brought to justice,” Egco said.

Maganes had reportedly survived an earlier attempt on his life on November 8, 2016 by feigning death. Through the efforts of PTFoMS, a frustrated murder charge was filed in court against one of the suspects. The suit dismissed on the basis of an Affidavit of Desistance executed by Maganes, it was learned.

The PTFoMS is mandated to ensure the safety and security of media workers. It deems all forms of violence against media workers to be work-related until further investigation proves otherwise.

As always, the Task Force is monitoring the case and will issue updates on the latest developments.

Meanwhile, Ernie Sarmiento, former Chief Photographer of Philippine Daily Inquirer, said Maganes was his cousin from Pangasinan.

“They succeeded this time. First attempt was in 2016, same month. Now they made sure, pumping two more bullets in the head, 4 in the body,” Sarmiento said.

“My cousin Virgilio Sarmiento Maganes, a broadcast journalist in Pangasinan is a mandirigmang mamamahayag at aliping sagigilid,” Ernie Sarmiento in his Facebook post said. “He will rest for now,” Sarmiento added. (JIJ)

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