THE Police Regional Office 1 has solved the case of murdered Northern Luzon journalist Virgilio ‘Vir’ Maganes following the arrest of a man positively identified by witnesses as the gunman who shot the victim last November 10, Philippine National Police chief, General Debold M. Sinas said yesterday.
Sinas said members of the PRO1 headed by Brigadier Gen. Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. are set to file a murder case against several suspects in the killing of Maganes led by Noe Ducay.
Azurin said the Villasis Muncipal Police Station is preparing the case against Ducay, Romar Bustillos and several John Does and Jane Does. The Maganes case folder is also being reviewed by the legal officer of the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office, Lieutenant Colonel Florendo Leung prior to its endorsement to the prosecutor’s office, he added.
In a report to Sinas, the PRO1 director said that with the help of two witnesses, officers came up with a computerized facial sketch of the suspected gunman last December 2.
Around 5:30 a.m. last Wednesday, members of the Pangasinan PPO and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided the house of Ducay in Bgy. Carusukan, Asingan municipality where the suspect was arrested after officers recovered illegal firearms during the search.
Azurin said that Maganes, who is now being held at the local CIDG office, was later positively identified by a witness from nine pictures of suspected guns-for-hire operating in Pangasinan.
On Thursday, another witness also positively identified the suspect after being shown a rogue’s gallery and photographs of known hired killers in the province. “The witness, a female positively identified Ducay as the man who shot the victim without any provocation.
The Ilocos-Pangasinan police director said that another witness on Thursday afternoon positively identified a tricycle with Permit Sticker 1921 and the markings ‘Bustillos-Otacan’ in its body as the suspect’s getaway vehicle.
Azurin said the sworn statements of the witnesses have been taken by investigators as part of the evidence to be submitted before the prosecutor’s office. He added that the Pangasinan PPO headed by Colonel Ronald V. Gayo is also leaving no stones unturned in the investigation of the case with the end in view of arresting all the personalities involved and sending them behind bars.
The official earlier ordered a massive investigation into the killing of the 62-year old Northern Luzon reporter.
“Let’s not allow people to be doing this to anybody. If we put our acts together, we can bring justice to Vir. Let Region 1 be the lead in stopping this senseless killing,” Azurin said as he called on anybody who has information on the identity and whereabouts of the killers and their mastermind to help them in their quest for justice for the murdered reporter.
He said that information can be sent to the hotline 7444701, 0936-9097844, 075-5427185 and 0917-1489938. The identity of the informant will be kept in utmost secrecy, the official assured.
The victim was about to enter his home in Sitio Licsab in Barangay San Blas in Villasis, Pangasinan around 6:30 a.m. last November 10 when he was shot six times by two motorcycle-riding assassins.
The victim, a columnist of the weekly Northern Watch and a commentator of radio station DwPR died on the spot.
Members of the Villasis Municipal Police Station headed by Major Fernando Fernandez rushed to the site and cordoned it to look for evidence and witnesses. A Special Investigation Task Group was created by Azurin to spearhead the probe into the killing.
Maganes on November 8, 2016 survived a gun attack by playing possum. An initial investigation showed that the suspects attacked the victim as he was riding a tricycle. The gunmen later left a paper with the words ‘Drug pusher huwag pamarisan’ at the scene in what the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines was a clear attempt to divert attention from the ppreal motive behind the failed slay attempt.
“Virgilio “Vir” Maganes represents a part of shunned society where his works deeply contributed to the call of public service. His murder is indeed a loss in the media community and in the entire country,” said Azurin.
The PRO1 and the whole PNP headed by Gen. Sinas condemned in the strongest manner the killing of Maganes. “We ensure that the PNP will seek the truth and will pursue the case no matter who gets caught and who gets hurt. Rest assured that those responsible for this murder should be urgently found and brought to justice,” Azurin said.
The official said that the SITG Maganes have found some leads and identified some ‘ ‘persons of interest’ id thru CCTV footages near the crime scene.
“I encourage the Filipino community, especially our friends from the media to remain vigilant and help us in the speedy resolution of the case. As the Regional Director of Ilocos Region police, it is my distinct desire to bring the perpetrators to justice. Again, the speedy resolution of this case is in our priority. We will not stop until justice is served, “Azurin said.