The day I cheated death – Vir
(In this issue, we are veering away from the usual publication of news as headline. We are giving way to the first person account of Virgilio Maganes on the day he was a target of assassins. – Editor)
By Virgilio Sar. Maganes
It was a usual day for me on November 8, a day after my birthday, which I did not bother to celebrate because of several appointments. At 4:30, I took a bath, had my coffee and prepared to go to downtown Villasis where I will wait for a bus going to Dagupan City for my daily radio program at DWPR Radyo Asenso aired at 8:00 to 9:00 in the morning. That was my daily routine since May 17, when my regular radio program ” Virgil Maganes sa DWPR” was maidenly broadcast.
At 5:40 in the morning, I went out of the house and opened the steel gate. The tricycle driver, Arvee Pastor, who regularly took me to the town proper, was waiting for me. His tricycle was parked along the road near our gate as his house is just about six meters from ours. I called him, telling him I was ready to go. He came immediately and I sat inside the tricycle. When we were about ten meters away from our gate going to the Villasis-Asingan Road, a lady neighbor Felicidad Radam rode behind the driver. It was also her routine to go to the Villasis Bagsakan that hour, she being a helper in an eatery. We traveled without noticing anything unusual.
When we were about a kilometer from our house, I heard three gunshots. I did not know that the shots were directed at the back of the tricycle that I was riding until I noticed that the lady passenger and the driver jumping off, making the tricycle go zigzag until it got stalled by a concrete post of a gasoline station- Mile Age that is being demolished. Afterwards, I noticed a motorcycle with two riding men passing by the tricycle, and the backrider fired at me, hitting me about two inches below my armpit. I covered the wound with my hand, grimaced in pain as blood oozed profusely and I played dead. When I opened my eyes, I saw the motorcycle with the riding two men speeding towards the town proper. I did not recognize anyone of them except that the man at the back, who looked thin, was wearing a white t-shirt. My thoughts were hazy at that time but I had to save myself. I don’t want to die, not that time.
I collected my full strength and alighted from the tricycle asking for help from the passing tricycles. No one dared to stop and help me. From a distance, I saw a man holding a brown cardboard but not giving much attention to it. A man came to me. I asked for help and he immediately responded by taking his tricycle which was parked nearby. He came back with his tricycle and I boarded it, requesting him to take me to Villasis Polymedic Trauma Center. Upon reaching the hospital, no medical personnel was around so I directed him to take me to Dr. Chan Hospital in Carmen East, Rosales. Along the way, I requested the tricycle driver to report to Villasis Police Station. The driver was later identified as Jerome Pagaduan and I thank him for being a good Samaritan. At the hospital, I told the medical personnel manning the information counter that I have gunshot wounds and I was immediately attended to by a nurse who applied first aid to my wound. I was confined after having several x-rays taken on my chest and wounds.
In the afternoon of November 8, reporters from TV outlets based in Dagupan City-GMA7 and ABS-CBN came and interviewed me. Friends from the media like Yolanda Sotelo of Philippine Daily Inquirer and Susan Yadao of DWIZ-News Radio of Dagupan City visited too and interviewed me about the incident. I was told that the incident has already reached several media outlets in Manila and the news have already been aired. Media interviews were followed by police investigations by police officers of Villasis Police Station and Pangasinan Provincial Police Office in Lingayen.
In the evening, Undersecretary/Executive Director Joel Sy Egco of Presidential Task Force on Media Security, PNP Regional Director/Police Chief Supt. Gregorio Ramos Pimentel along with high ranking police officers of Region I and OIC-Provincial Director Ronald Oliver Lee of Pangasinan visited me at the hospital.
Egco said that I was the first media victim that the Task Force will look into after President Rodrigo Duterte issued the Administrative Order creating the said task force. He also said that Communications Secretary Martin Andanar directed him to look after my case that’s why he came over to Pangasinan immediately. He then directed Regional Director Pimentel and Provincial Director Lee to speed up the investigation regarding my case, which they promised to do. Egco assured me of the Task Force’s assistance as soon as the guidelines are finalized and declared operational.
On November 9, a debridement procedure was done Dr. Arlene Pavo on my gunshot wounds. Debridement, according to Wikipedia, is the medical removal of dead, damaged or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue. I was brought to the operating room at 12:01 in the morning for the debridement. I was sedated and woke up at 2:30 in the morning just after the procedure was completed. After the procedure, I was brought back to my room feeling invigorated after eating my meal and drinking water. Before the debridement, I was advised not to ingest anything for eight hours but went beyond to ten hours.
On November 10, relatives and friends visited me giving words of consolation and comfort that what happened to me was a miracle. I was told that the gunshots at the back of the tricycle will not give the target a chance to live. There were two bullets that penetrated the back of the tricycle but did not enter my body. The upper bullet that was shot to penetrate my head was blocked by a steel bar.Thank God! I survived the work of the demon. Thank God, I cheated death because it has lost its sting that moment. My faith and resolve to God’s mercy have worked tremendously.
I am out now from the hospital praying that the “demons” will no longer come back to haunt me. Many tales are now narrated surrounding the incident. It was said that the culprits have been tailing behind the tricycle once we left our house. The motorcycle driver was alone and fetched the gunman at a nearby place in our vicinity. Before the gunman fired the shots, he saw to it that there were no other vehicles passing by. Three fatal shots would have cost my life and be a part of the war against illegal drugs as a placard bearing the words “HUWAG TULARAN, POSHER(sic) AKO” was recovered by the police officers from the crime scene. I would have been a victim of an extra-judicial killing (EJK), as the ploy was the usual scenario of the countless deaths under the Operation Tokhang of the Philippine National Police (PNP) perpetrated by unscrupulous persons who are riding on it.
I pinched myself several times. Am I alive? I’ve been questioning the conscience of the perpetrators. Were they paid to do it and who was or were behind the premeditated crime against me? I believe that the incident has something to do with my work as a media man- a columnist of Northern Watch and anchor/commentator of DWPR Radio Asenso. I also believe that it has something to do with politics, me being a harsh critic of politicians during the election campaign period. They are trying to silence me from telling the truth, but in silence more truth and realities will be revealed and even more deafening.
There will come a day that the culprits will be known. I hope as of the moment they could sleep well with their adulterated conscience- but then “demons” have no conscience at all.
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