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Authorities arrest alleged gunman in radio broadcaster's shooting death

(CMFR/IFEX) - On 23 September 2010, the Philippine National Police arrested the alleged gunman in the June 2010 killing of a radio broadcaster. The arrest took place in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, a province approximately 402 kilometers north of Manila.

Arrested was Leanardo Banaag, the alleged gunman in the murder of dzJC reporter and anchor Jovelito "Lito" Agustin. Agustin died on 16 June 2010, hours after a gunman riding tandem on a motorcycle shot him several times. Agustin was on his way home from his daily public affairs programme when Banaag and his companion allegedly attacked him. Agustin's nephew Joseph, who was with him at the time, was also injured.

Ilocos Norte Police Supt. Bienvenido Rayco, the head of Task Force Agustin, said Banaag was arrested around 2:15 a.m. local time at the Summer Place hotel along Marcos Highway in Baguio City, a province approximately 198 kilometers from Ilocos Norte. Banaag is a security guard at the hotel.

Banaag used to work for Bacarra town vice mayor Pacifico Velasco, who is accused of masterminding Agustin's murder. Vice mayor Velasco was a subject of Agustin's critical commentaries. Velasco and Banaag, along with three John Does, were charged with the murder of Agustin and the attempted murder of Agustin's nephew before the prosecutor's office last 21 June 2010.

In August, the investigating prosecutors issued a partial resolution saying they found probable cause and would file charges against Banaag and the John Does. Banaag was arrested on the strength of two arrest warrants issued by the Laoag City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 12 Judge Charles Aguilar on 3 September 2010. No resolution has been issued regarding Velasco as of press time.

Agustin was one of the three journalists/media practitioners killed in the line of duty in June 2010, the last month of former president and now Pampanga second district representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's term.

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