June 22, 2010 in Featured
By ALDWIN QUITASOL with reports from LEILANIE ADRIANO
LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte — Hit in an ambush around 9:45 pm along the national highway a radioman here succumbed to four gunshot wounds three hours later at the nearby Gov. Roque B. Ablan Sr. Memorial hospital.
The victim was Joselito “Lito” Agustin, 37, married, radio reporter and anchorman of DZJC Aksyon Radyo-Laoag.
Based on initial police report, the victim was on a motorcycle with his nephew, Joseph Agustin on their way home to Bacarra, Ilocos after his regular evening program when unidentified gunmen followed them along the Bacarra national highway and fired at the victims at close range.
Joseph, his nephew who regularly accompanies the victim in his radio commentary program entitled “Ilocos Norte, Laoag City by night” also suffered slight injuries on his feet, arms and legs.
Investigators recovered empty shells of a .45 caliber pistol at the crime scene.
Earlier, On May 7, the victim’s compound in Brgy. Natba, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte was peppered with bullets from an armalite rifle. After which Diomedes Lorenzo, station manager of DZJC Aksyon Radyo said in a radio interview that he warned the victim to tone down his radio commentaries and take extra precaution.
His media colleagues in Ilocos Norte describe Agustin as a “jolly” person and fearless in his job and was also an identified supporter of a politician in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte in the last May elections.
When asked for comment, Bishop Sergio L. Utleg told newsmen in the province to be united and do not be afraid to bring out and tell the truth. He said Agustin was a “hero” for assuming his job without fear. The bishop likewise enjoined media men in Ilocos Norte including other concerned authorities to help and give justice to Agustin’s killing.
The National Union of Journalist of the Philippines (NUJP), strongly condemned the killing of Agustin and Radio anchorman Desiderio Camangyan of Davao who was also shot a day earlier. The killings, NUJP stated, barely half a month before a new administration takes the reins of government, clearly indicate that the enemies of press freedom remain confident that they can continue to escape accountability even under a new dispensation.
The NUJP challenged the incoming administration of President-elect Benigno Aquino III to take action against the killings of journalists. “If he is to make good on his campaign promise of good governance, he should take the murders of Davao Oriental’s Desiderio Camangyan and Ilocos Norte’s Joselito Agustin as a personal challenge to end the culture of impunity that has for so long emboldened those who seek to silence the independent Philippine press, making a mockery of our claims to being a democracy,” the NUJP said.
Meanshile, Philippine National Police Jesus Versoza ordered the creation of special investigation team to investigate the killing of Agustin days after the ambush.
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Senior Supt. Benito Estipona and head of the task force claimed they already identified the killer of Agustin. Estipona identified the suspect as a certain Leonardo Banaag Jr., alias Uno, a resident of Barangay 7 in Bacarra town, Ilocos Norte, as the alleged hitman as reported to the police by a credible witness.
According to Estipona, manhunt operations to locate the gunman and other suspects is on going. He also said that the Ilocos Norte CIDG team is preparing to file charges of murder and frustrated murder against Banaag and his cohorts before the province’s prosecutor’s office. #nordis.net