Joselito Agustin

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Two gunmen on motorcycles shot Joselito Agustin four times as he was returning from work near the northern Philippine town of Baccara late on the evening of June 15, 2010, according to local and international news reports.

Agustin, who was driving his car, was taken to a local hospital and died the next morning, the news reports said, adding that a passenger in the car, his nephew, suffered a leg wound.

The 37-year-old radio broadcaster for the outlet DZJC was known for on-air commentaries criticizing official corruption, according to news reports.

Nick Malasig, a DZJC colleague, said Agustin had received text message death threats in the weeks before his killing, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the local press freedom group Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

On May 7, Agustin’s house was sprayed with gunfire by unidentified assailants, according to news reports. No one was injured in that attack, the reports said.

Agustin had also reported on local election irregularities, including the disqualification of candidates, according to the media center. Malasig said his colleague had suspected a local politician was behind the May assault on his house, the center told CPJ.

On June 21, 2010, police filed murder charges against Pacific Velasco, newly elected vice mayor of Baccara, his aide Leonardo Banaag, and two other suspects, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

In his radio commentaries, Agustin had spoken out against Velasco, who had been convicted in a recent graft case, the Inquirer reported. Agustin’s nephew identified Banaag as the gunman, the Inquirer reported. 

On February 2, 2021, Judge Romeo E. Agacita Jr. of Branch 27 of the San Fernando, La Union Regional Trial Court convicted Banaag of murdering Agustin, and sentenced him to life in prison, according to news reports and a statement by the Presidential Task Force on Media Security. The court also sentenced him to six to eight years in prison for shooting Agustin’s nephew, that statement said.

Banaag was also ordered to pay the victim’s surviving heirs 300,000 pesos ($5,942), those sources said.

Velasco died in 2019, according to the task force statement.