Latest Stories

Another community loses a journalist


VERGEL Bico was gunned down by unidentified men while riding his motorcycle on his way home in Calapan City on Sept. 4, leaving behind his family who are struggling to live. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Vergel Bico was on his way home after buying fish from a wet market near their house in Barangay (village) Tibag in Calapan City when he was shot by unidentified men riding tandem on a motorcycle.

When he died at 4 p.m. on Sept. 4, Bico had scheduled the third issue of Kalahi, a monthly regional paper he just put up in Oriental Mindoro, for printing in Batangas across the sea.

If the killing was indeed work-related, the 41-year-old Bico would be the 158th journalist killed since 1986 when democracy was restored in the Philippines, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

“He did not want me to interfere in his work … I respected him for that,” said his widow, Editha, 43. She, however, recalled hearing him passionately talk against illegal activities, such as the illegal numbers game “jueteng” and jai-alai.

Bico wrote for the weekly Bandera Pilipino for two years until October last year. His last articles focused on illegal gambling, according to its publisher, Ronald Bula.

“Whatever the motive behind the killing, can a journalist’s life be taken away that easily?” said Editha’s brother, broadcaster Ed Mancera. His sentiments were shared by senior journalists who were present during Vergel’s wake.

The victim was also a part-time broadcaster at Radyo Natin in Naujan town, which is managed by Mancera.

A special task force under Senior Supt. Rolando de Jesus, director of Oriental Mindoro Police Office, which is investigating Bico’s case, is looking into both personal and work-related motives behind the killing.

Bico was shot twice in the head and brought to Maria Estrella General Hospital by policemen from the public safety department. He was declared dead on arrival, however.

Chief Insp. D’Artagnan Katalbas Jr., acting Calapan police chief, said the killers had tailed Bico from Barangay Balite and attacked him in Barangay Pachoca.

On Sept. 7, Bico was buried at the public cemetery in neighboring Baco town. His coffin was placed on top of a relative’s.

Editha said the wake was supposed to last four days but had to be cut short as all of the family members had arrived and “we could not afford additional expenses.”

“We didn’t have any savings nor did we invest in insurance,” she added.

On the week Bico was killed, a radio commentator, Fernando Solijon, was shot and killed in Iligan City in Mindanao.

“We’re very disappointed that killings continue to happen given a President who campaigned on a platform of human rights and made several promises that he’d work to solve the killings of journalists and those of others,” said Rowena Paraan, chairperson of the NUJP, who attended Bico’s burial rites.

If such a trend of unsolved killing would continue, Paraan said, Bico’s case would become a “closed book.”

Paraan said no mastermind had ever been convicted, saying this spoke much of the state of impunity in the country. “Out of 17 cases, only 10 cases have seen convictions, and these are mostly lookouts, drivers … a few gunmen,” she said.

Since her husband’s death, Editha said she had been struggling to send her children—aged 16, 15 and 13 years—to school. She takes laundry jobs to augment her husband’s irregular income.

Her family also pays P1,500 rent for an apartment.

“How the wife takes it (the killing) affects how the children take it,” Paraan said.

Besides case documentation, monitoring and lobbying, the NUJP conducts psychosocial activities for surviving spouses of slain journalists.

“We have noticed during these sessions, a lot of the wives are not very familiar with the risks in the work of their husbands, usually broadcasters,” Paraan said.

The trauma is much deeper because the spouses don’t have any idea how such a brutal killing could happen, she added.

Paraan said the local media community could help conduct an orientation among wives of journalists, whether or not there are threats  on one’s life.

Meantime, she said she hoped the journalists could unite to do something about Bico’s death. A journalist’s killing leaves an impact on the community, she said.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Media , News , Regions

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  2. Chinese lawyers say they were tortured by police
  3. Hair salon’s Kim Jong Un poster riles embassy
  4. Siquijor ‘healer’: For every cure, there’s a plant
  5. State seeks guilty verdict for Abalos
  6. Why college grads end up in the PNP
  7. Estrada: I will pray for my detractors
  8. Miraculous image makes Gapan City top site for pilgrimage in Central Luzon
  9. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  10. Five men from Cavite found dead in jeep in Batangas
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. Massage attendant arrested on rape complaint filed by Japanese tourist
  3. ‘Tell no one’ Makati bettor won P250M lotto
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  6. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  7. North Korea uses flamethrower to execute official
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  10. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’


  • Romblon mining site collapses; 3 killed
  • South Korea says 295 missing in ferry disaster
  • OFW who returned home from UAE tests positive for MERS-CoV – DOH chief
  • QC cops bear crosses as penance for demerits
  • Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  • Sports

  • China, Taiwan rout foes for 3rd, 5th places in Asian Club volleyball
  • Ginebra’s new import Freeman arrives, makes PBA return vs ROS
  • Fielder ends HR drought, Rangers beat Mariners 5-0
  • Power Pinoys salvage 7th place in Asian men’s volley club championship
  • Knicks prevent Nets from clinching fifth seed
  • Lifestyle

  • Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  • Celebrate Easter Sunday at Buddha-Bar Manila
  • Moriones feast: A slow, steady transformation
  • Weaving ‘palaspas’ a tradition kept alive in Tayabas City
  • Finalists announced for best translated books
  • Entertainment

  • Mommy Dionisia Pacquiao’s greatest hits
  • Deniece Cornejo posts bail—report
  • Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels US concert
  • Otaku Summer Jam 2014: Summer’s hottest J-rock/Cosplay event
  • 2NE1 returns to Manila with “All Or Nothing” Tour
  • Business

  • I-Remit teams up with Lakhoo for remittances from Oman
  • Megawide nets P1.4 B in 2013
  • Longer TRO sought on rate hike
  • Make a stylish statement with the all-new Yaris
  • Hearing set in Olarte case
  • Technology

  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  • Opinion

  • We may never know
  • Couple of things
  • Mommy D’s magic
  • Stop bizarre and bloody Good Friday rituals
  • Holy Week taboos
  • Global Nation

  • Visa-free travel to Japan could boost tourism
  • 2 PCG men ordered arrested over Balintang Channel shooting
  • US Embassy closed on Holy Thursday, Good Friday
  • Relief worker draws inspiration from helping Yolanda victims
  • Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes
  • Marketplace