Ex-Ilocos vice mayor’s aide gets life for broadcaster’s slay

Artemio Dumlao - The Philippine Star

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — A former bodyguard of a former vice mayor in Ilocos Norte has been found guilty of the murder of radio broadcaster Jovelito Agustin in Laoag City in 2011.

In a 15-page decision promulgated on Tuesday, La Union Regional Trial Court Branch 27 Judge Romeo Agacita Jr. sentenced Leonardo Banaag Jr. to life imprisonment.

The court also ordered Banaag to pay the victim’s surviving heirs P300,000 in civil indemnity.

Banaag was sentenced to another six years in prison for attempted murder of Joseph Agustin, the broadcaster’s companion, who was wounded in the gun attack.

Police said the convict was a former bodyguard of Pacifico Velasco, a former mayor of Bacarra town, who was vice mayor at the time.

Agustin,  a broadcaster at dzJC, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men on his way home in Barangay Barit.

He was known for criticizing local politicians for alleged corruption and ties to illegal gambling.

“Justice has been achieved... We’ll make sure that the likes of Banaag will feel the dire consequences of their heinous deeds. No matter how long it takes, the Duterte administration will always ensure that justice will be served to all perpetrators of media violence,” Presidential Task Force on Media Security executive director Joel Egco said.

Egco said the verdict marks the 50th conviction of a suspect in the killing of a journalist in the country.


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