Slain ex-journalist’s dad welcomes NBI’s ‘lead’ in murder probe
SAN PASCUAL, Batangas, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation has zeroed in on a suspect in the murder of Melinda “Mei” Magsino, revealed the father of the former Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter.
Danilo Magsino, 68, said he was told by the NBI on Thursday about a lead in the investigation.
“We (with the NBI) agreed not to divulge anything at the moment,” he said, but revealed, when pressed for details, that the NBI has identified a “suspect.”
Magsino’s family sought the help of the NBI, to which they have turned over several personal effects of Magsino, such as her cell phone and computer laptop and those of her partner, Benjie Reyes.
In an earlier interview, Reyes, 60, and Magsino’s partner of three years, said they preferred the NBI to the police to handle the investigation.
Magsino’s mother, Amelita, said a relative working for the agency might be able to help in speeding up the investigation.
The Batangas police, nevertheless, is conducting a parallel investigation into Magsino’s killing.
Supt. Dennis Esguerra, head of the Batangas police special task group looking into Magsino’s killing, said the security cameras from an auto shop near the crime scene “yielded nothing” that could help police identify the gunman who escaped on a motorcycle driven by another man towards Batangas City proper.
He said the police were still looking for witnesses willing to testify about the killing. They are also re-tracing the direction taken by the fleeing killers.
Danilo Magsino, however, said he believed “politicians,” whose illegal activities might have been exposed by his daughter, were the only people with resources to hire contract killers.
“I’m just wondering why just now,” he said.
Magsino was a correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 1999 until sometime in 2005. She also published stories in local newspapers in Batangas province.
While away from mainstream media in the past 10 years, she became an outspoken critic of local government officials through the social media. On the side, Magsino, 41, helped run Reyes’ chiropractic clinic in the home the couple shared in Batangas City.
Investigators have been looking into Magsino’s Facebook posts in the days leading to her death.
Political clans, among them the Dolors in Bauan town named in Magsino’s recent Facebook posts, denied any role in the killing.
The family of Batangas City Mayor Eduardo Dimacuha, in a statement Thursday, also denied any hand in Magsino’s death and said news reports against their family were “baseless.”
Magsino’s friends and former colleagues from various news agencies visited her wake at the family’s residence here. Among them were local politicians in Batangas province.
“They meant to silence Mei,” said Magsino’s uncle Pedrito Magsino, a retired Army general.
He said the family appealed to witnesses to come forward as it was unlikely that no one saw the gunman since the crime took place on a busy street at high noon in Batangas City.
“If there was anything (Magsino) wrote without any evidence, as they now say of her, how come no one charged her with libel?” Pedrito Magsino said.
He said the family wished to see in jail not only the gunman, but the mastermind as well.
Magsino had been known to many as vocal critic of local officials. But to Reyes, she was a “perfect partner.”
“Let the authorities do their job. All I want is to give her a decent burial,” said Reyes, who worked for hours to restore Magsino’s face defaced by the bullet that pierced through her left eye.
“At night, she used to lay her head on my chest. She would say that if anything happened to her, she wanted to hear last the beat of the heart that loved her,” he said.
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