Ex-PDI reporter shot dead in Batangas
BATANGAS CITY—A single gunshot ended the life of Melinda “Mei” Magsino in Batangas, the province she covered as correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer for six years until 2005.
Magsino, 40, was killed at high noon as she was walking on a street in Barangay (village) Balagtas here, just about 50 meters from her apartment.
Magsino went out before noon on Monday to buy an electric fan, according to her relatives.
A security camera from a nearby auto shop showed a male gunman, wearing a white “sando” (sleeveless shirt), approach the victim from the back. The gunman shot her at close range, with the bullet exiting through the victim’s left eye.
The gunman escaped on a black and white Honda motorcycle driven by another man, the police investigation said.
“Things like this happen to people doing what is right. We will find out who did this,” said her father, Danilo Magsino, a retired Army colonel.
Magsino was the 32nd journalist killed in the country under the Aquino administration and the 173rd journalist murdered since 1986.
“The list of murdered journalists here [in the Philippines] is too long. I have to survive. I don’t want to become another statistic,” Magsino wrote in 2005, after receiving death threats.
Senior Supt. Jireh Omega Fidel, Batangas police director, said Magsino was dead on the spot from a gunshot wound to the head at 12:10 p.m.
Police recovered an empty shell from a .45 cal. from the crime scene.
Fidel said Magsino, a vegetarian, was managing a health clinic in the city at the time of her death. Her boyfriend was helping her manage the clinic that was also selling herbal products.
The Philippine National Police said the Batangas provincial police office had been ordered to get to the bottom of Magsino’s murder.
“The PNP, through the Batangas police, will of course investigate this case, identify the culprit and charge him in court,” said the PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr.
Cerbo said Task Force Usig would also conduct an investigation of Magsino’s murder, with a special investigation task group to be formed to solve the case.
The Batangas City police chief, Supt. Manuel Castillo, said Magsino had just left a house in Purok 2, which she was sharing with her boyfriend, before she was shot. The suspects had been tailing her.
Magsino was known among Batangas reporters as a hard-hitting journalist.
Records from the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) showed that Magsino reported “threats” to her life sometime in 2005, during which she exposed alleged corruption and illegal gambling activities of the late Batangas Gov. Armand Sanchez. Some of her stories named the former governor a “jueteng lord.”
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), in a report that year, said the Batangas provincial government declared Magsino persona non grata after she and Sanchez had a confrontation during a press conference.
CMFR said Magsino was asking favors from Sanchez but the official turned her down.
Sanchez suffered a stroke and died in April 2010.
Danilo said he understood the nature of his daughter’s job. “In a profession like yours, it’s hard not to draw some people’s ire,” he told the Inquirer at the Filipinas Funeral Home here, where Magsino’s body was brought.
Danilo, however, refused to give the names of those whom his daughter might have “angered.”
Not afraid of enemies
“She had many enemies, but she was not afraid. She was never afraid,” said Magsino’s cousin, Christine Magsino.
She said even after Magsino had stopped writing for print media, her cousin had continued to practice as a journalist through social media.
In 2010, an election year, Magsino ran the Southern Luzon Inquirer, a bilingual provincial newspaper in Batangas that was not related to the Inquirer.
She served as the paper’s publisher, editor in chief and reporter. It published weekly issues from January to August 2010.
“Nothing happened to the business so we decided to fold up,” said Magsino’s colleague, who refused to be named due to the sensitivity of the case.
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