Philip Agustin

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Agustin, editor and publisher of the local weekly Starline Times Recorder, was killed by a single shot to the back of the head, according to local news reports. Police said a gunman fired through an open window in the home of Agustin’s daughter and then fled on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice. The murder occurred in the village of Paltic, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) northeast of Manila.

A special edition of the Starline Times Recorder dedicated to corruption and illegal logging in the nearby town of Dingalan was scheduled to come out on May 11. Valentino Lapuz, a member of the local council who witnessed the shooting, said in an interview with GMA television that the newspaper linked the local mayor to missing government money. Mayor Jaime Ylarde denied wrongdoing.

Agustin’s family told police that his articles about local corruption and official inaction against the illegal logging trade were the likely motives for his murder, according to the ABS-CBN news Web site.

Witnesses in May identified three suspects. The alleged gunman, Reynaldo Morete, arrested on May 14, identified Ylarde as the mastermind, according to local press reports and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, a press freedom organization. The other suspects remained at large.

The mayor was not immediately charged and repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing.