A friend of mine was shot to death last week.
He was not just shot to death. The better word would be murdered, or even assassinated.
My friend’s name is Michael ‘Mike’ Marasigan, and we worked together at Business World almost three decades ago when I came in as a desk assistant and he was the chief of reporters.
Mike was with his brother Christopher, who was also killed. The two of them were in Mike’s SUV driving along San Juan when two men riding in tandem in a motorcycle stopped them and pumped 34 bullets into the pair.
It was a little past 6:00 pm and witnesses said the motorcycle had no plate number. It was also learned that someone had been casing Mike’s residence in the days preceding the killing.
In other words, it was a planned murder, not some random act of violence as had been suggested. The killer definitely used a semi-automatic pistol considering the number of shots fired. He also made sure that Mike would not survive as six bullets found their mark, two in the neck and four in the body.
As of this writing, there are still no leads as to who masterminded the killing, and who actually fired the shots.
I am writing about this case for several reasons.
I had been interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and I repeat what I said to their reporter: Mike had no known enemies. He was one of the nicest guys around. Amiable is the word PDI used to describe him, and it is quite fitting.
An undersecretary who works in Malacanang called me up the day after the killing to ask about Mike. This usec is also in charge of investigating media killings since he was a former reporter. He worked under me in two newspapers and was quite serious in saying that they would do everything to get to the bottom of the crime. I know he will.
The National Bureau of Investigation has taken charge of the investigation, and I am not surprised that the case will be difficult to solve. Indeed, Mike was an honest-to-goodness Mr. Nice Guy, one who was quick to laugh and ready to help anyone in need.
He was also a successful businessman, having put up a video production house as well as a public relations practice. Right after retiring from Business World a decade or so ago, he went into producing films about the country’s tourism spots.
His most high profile PR client was Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez.
With this background, what reason would anyone have to kill him?
At his wake earlier this week, a mutual friend asked me the same question. In talking to other Business World alumni, our shared shock was due to our long-held belief that we were insulated from the violence that sometimes exists in local media. After all, we were not tabloid or radio journalists constantly spoiling for a fight. We were pros who did our job such that no one could question anything we ever wrote.
We were business journalists, for God’s sake.
I am saddened since I will not be present for Mike’s memorial service where friends are asked to tell their Mike Marasigan stories, of which I have plenty. But I know that Mike will understand because I am closing this newspaper on the day he makes his final exit.
During our time together, we did what we had to do. Work always came first. Then we would go out and have drinks, and boy could Mike drink.
The last time I saw him was a few months ago when we had a party for a balikbayan reporter from BW. After everyone had gone home, as mall group of us stayed behind to drink some more.
We talked about the good old days under the Locsins. But we did not only delve in the past. Mike and I may have been in our 60s already, but we still had many things we wanted to do, to accomplish. We still had a lot of living to do. And every so often, we would have such reunions where we could eat, drink, and be very merry.
We ended on a high note in the wee hours of the morning that time knowing that there would always be a next time. We would still drink ice cold beer or single malt whiskeys that he now favored.
Now, he will no longer have the chance. A paid assassin made sure of that.