George Vigo

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Two unidentified gunmen shot radio journalists George and Maricel Vigo near their home on the southern island of Mindanao. The married couple were walking home from a public market when they were shot at around 5:15 p.m. by men on a motorcycle. They died on the way to the hospital.

George Vigo was a contributor to the Bangkok-based church news agency Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) and was active in a local nongovernmental organization that helped rehabilitate internally displaced people. Maricel Vigo hosted a radio program on local station DXND.

The couple’s recent reporting and commentary was considered uncontroversial, according to colleagues and local media groups. But the two had long careers reporting on alleged government corruption and right-wing militias. Offices of a tabloid newspaper founded by the Vigos, The Headliner, were the target of an apparent arson attack in 2001.

The couple had previously been active in left-wing student groups and in recent years had cultivated contacts within the militant Communist rebel organization, the New People’s Army (NPA), as part of their reporting, according to colleagues. In 2003, George Vigo reported on the NPA for a BBC documentary titled “One Day of War,” according to journalist Orlando Guzman, a friend who did reporting for the documentary.

Some of George Vigo’s colleagues believe that the couple’s murder may be connected to a video CD he received from the NPA, which showed a raid on a police station, according to Guzman. He told several colleagues that he had been followed after receiving the video and had expressed fear that military or local officials would target him.

German Doria, the central Mindanao police chief, told reporters that an NPA member had been identified as one of the gunmen and that the killing appeared to be in retaliation for George Vigo’s cooperation with the Philippine military. The Philippine government announced a heightened military campaign against the rebels in early June. An NPA spokesman, however, denied involvement in the killing, according to news reports.