MAC: Mines and Communities

Background - from

Published by MAC on 2004-02-15

Background - from ABS-CBN News

'They accuse me of being an NPA'

Sunday 15th February 2004

By Ire Jo V.C. Laurente, Today Correspondent

Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro - "They accuse me of being an NPA [New People's Army] member."

These were the last words this reporter heard from murdered Vice Mayor Juvy Magsino of Naujan. The statement was elicited when this reporter kidded her about her wearing jewelry then. It was on the eve of President Arroyo and her slate's visit to the province.

Five hours after the President left the province on Friday afternoon, Magsino, 34, and her companion, Leima Fortu, were killed. Seven bullets pierced through her body, three in the head.

Juvy, as she was fondly called by friends and colleagues, was a lawyer. Born from a poor family in barangay Adrialuna, Naujan, she was a consistent honor student and leader during her school days.

When she entered college at University of the East-Recto in Manila, she joined militant student organizations that helped in the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship. She was also there when farmers from all over the country held a rally, where a dozen were massacred in Mendiola in the early years of the Aquino administration.

She set aside her militant activism when she entered law school at the Manuel L. Quezon University in Manila to fulfill her father's dream that she become a lawyer. She studied and worked at the same time. She graduated with honors and was a recipient of the Justice Arsenio P. Dizon Memorial Award. She passed the bar in 1994 and was among the top 10 in her school.

Back in Mindoro, she served as counsel in a realty group and taught law in two schools. She ran for councilor in her town and handily won, garnering the biggest number of votes in the political history of the town.

But the call to serve the less privileged was really deep in her mind. Thus, she was always available when the fisher folk, farmers, Mangyans and political activists sought her legal expertise.

She was the chairman of the environmental group Alyansa Laban sa Mina in Naujan that spearheaded the struggle of Mindoro folk against the planned nickel-mining in the province by Canada-based Crew Minerals.

In her vice-mayoral bid in the last elections, she was endorsed by party-list Bayan Muna and other militant groups like the human rights watchdog Alyansa para sa Pagsusulong ng Karapatan ng Mamamayan.

After winning in the last elections, she was elected president of the Oriental Mindoro chapter of the Vice Mayors League of the Philippines. She was also at the forefront of issues on human rights violations allegedly committed by elements of the Army, the headquarters of which was established in her hometown.

Then 204th Brigade commander Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. was quoted as saying that the Army will be watching Magsino.

This coming elections, she would have fought it out with incumbent Mayor Norberto Mendoza, with whom she was at odds on many issues. The two had a friction when the mayor wanted to implement an ordinance covering a portion of the famous Naujan Lake which Magsino viewed would be detrimental to the small fishermen.

When she started receiving death threats since last year, Magsino kidded her friends, saying that when she dies they should prepare a tribute for her.

"'Pag wala na ako, gandahan n'yo naman ang parangal para sa akin, ha? Sabihin n'yo 'yung mga ginawa natin sa tao at sa bayan," her colleague in Kubayi Foundation quoted her as joking.

On Wednesday, February 11, she forwarded to a journalist-friend a text message sent to her that said she would not last until the end of February. On February 13, a few hours after President Arroyo left, she was killed, possibly still wearing the jewelry that she thought would shield her from being branded an NPA by her critics.

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