Magsino’s father says NBI has suspect in Mei’s murder
SAN PASCUAL, Batangas—The National Bureau of Investigation has zeroed in on a suspect in the murder of former Inquirer correspondent Melinda “Mei” Magsino, her father said.
Danilo Magsino, 68, said the NBI told him on Thursday that investigators already have a lead in the case.
“But we agreed not to divulge anything at the moment,” the elder Magsino said.
Magsino’s family sought the help of the NBI in identifying her killers, and turned over to the agency some of the reporter’s personal effects, including her cell phone and laptop, and those of her partner’s, Benjie Reyes.
In an earlier interview, Reyes, 60, Magsino’s partner of three years, said the family preferred having the NBI handle the investigation rather than the police. Magsino’s mother, Amelita, also has a relative working at the NBI who might help speed up the investigation, he added.
An NBI agent, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said Magsino’s laptops and cellular phone were still being examined for threatening messages sent to her.
He added that investigators have yet to identify the gunman seen on the CCTV (closed-circuit television) provided by the auto supply shop located near the spot where Magsino was shot dead Monday noon.
The image showing the parked motorcyle that was later used as getaway vehicle was clear and so was the gunman’s clothes, the agent said.
“What (the NBI) is doing now is facial recognition of the suspect,” he added.
“We are also in the process of recovering the deleted messages in Magsino’s phone and tracing the IP (Internet protocol) address of the threats she received on Facebook,” the agent said.
But in its parallel investigation into the case, the Batangas police said the security cameras from the auto shop “yielded nothing” that could identify the gunman.
Supt. Dennis Esguerra, head of the Batangas police special task group on Magsino’s killing, said the security cameras from the shop near the crime scene “yielded nothing” that could identify the gunman who escaped on a motorcycle toward Batangas City proper.
Esguerra said the police are still tracing the direction taken by the fleeing assailants, and are looking for witnesses willing to testify. They are also looking into Magsino’s Facebook activities immediately before she was killed.
The elder Magsino said he believes “politicians,” whose illegal activities might have been exposed by his daughter could be behind the killing.
“I”m just wondering why (the killing happened) just now,” he said of his daughter who worked as Inquirer correspondent from 1999 until sometime 2005. Magsino later wrote for local newpapers in Batangas and posted stories on her social media account.
On the side, the outspoken critic of local government officials, helped her partner, Reyes, run his chiropractic clinic in the home the couple shared in Batangas City.
At the journalist’s wake held at her parents’ home, friends, colleagues, relatives and local politicians expressed their views on the killing.
“(The killers) meant to silence Mei,” Magsino’s uncle, retired Army general Pedrito Magsino, said.
“If there was anything (she) wrote without any evidence, as they now say of her, how come no one charged her with libel,” he asked.
The family was appealing to witnesses to come forward, he said, 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. The family wished to see not only the gunman in jail but the mastermind as well, the elder Magsino added.
Reyes described Magsino as 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 facial features that had been defaced by the bullet that pierced her nape and exited through her left eye.
“At night, she used to lay her head on my chest,” Reyes recalled. “She would say that if anything happened to her, the last thing she wanted to hear was the beat of the heart that loved her,” he said.
Politicians named in Magsino’s Facebook posts continued to deny any knowledge and part in her killing.
In a statement on Thursday, the family of Batangas City Mayor Eduardo Dimacuha said news reports implicating his family were “baseless.”
Politics was behind her killing, said Bauan town Mayor Ryan Dolor who deplored reports that, he said, dragged his name into the case.
“May gusto magpabagsak sa amin sa Bauan; gustong sirain ang pamilya namin (Somebody wants to pull us down in Bauan and destroy our family),” said Dolor on Friday.
He said he came to know through friends that Magsino had been hitting him on social media, but that he did not bother to look at the posts.
“I (and my father Herminigildo) never got mad and didn’t (take) any actions against her,” said Dolor, adding that the family did not have the capacity to have someone killed.
He said their real enemies were the “groups” behind some of their political rivals. The groups were also behind Mei’s criticisms of them, Dolor added.
The mayor said Magsino did not personally know nor had met Bauan Councilor Kelvin Gimeno so there was never an issue between the two of them.
In Facebook posts days before her killing, Magsino said she had traced to Gimeno, Panganiban Jeff and Paradise Andrew the IP addresses of those who had been sending her obscene messages and photos.
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