Remembering The PUNCH founder’s martyrdom

THROUGH the following news and column accounts on May 21-24, 1966, we remember our founding editor-publisher, Ermin E. Garcia and the legacy he left behind for today’s SUNDAY PUNCH.

The Saturday Chronicle, May 21, 1966 – “EDITOR SLAIN IN COLD BLOOD”

Dagupan City, May 20 — Ermin Garcia, editor of the Sunday Punch was murdered today by one of two armed men who broke into his office.

     An elective official, reportedly, was involved in the killing.

     Garcia suffered gunshot wounds in the chest and in the abdomen. He died at the Provincial Hospital at 10:47 tonight following an operation.

     In an ante-mortem statement, Garcia was said to have described the man who had shot him. The description of the gunman reportedly fit that of the official involved.

      The shooting came after Garcia and a reporter of his paper, Rodolfo Toledo, had been warned by telephone not to publish the story exposing an alleged money order racket here.

      Toledo told PNS the story was to have come out in the next issue of the provincial paper.

      When Garcia and Toledo demurred, the people involved in the racket went gunning for them. 

      At 2 p.m. today, a taxicab bearing four men stopped in front of the Mendoza Printing Press where the Sunday Punch was being published. Its four passengers alighted and inquired from the press owner for Garcia and Toledo.

      Told that the two newsmen were not there, the four men reportedly boarded the taxicab again and proceeded to the Sunday Punch office some 100 meters away.

      Two of the passengers went up to the office while the other two stayed in the taxicab.

      Garcia who met the two strangers told them to go home “because you are drunk.”

      Three shots suddenly rang out. Garcia slumped to the floor. The assailants then rushed downstairs.

The Manila Times, May 24, 1966 – “PUNCH EDITOR LAID TO REST”

Grieving thousands paid their last respects to Ermin Garcia, martyred editor-publisher of the Sunday Punch, as he was finally laid to rest Tuesday, at the little cemetery of San Fabian, his birthplace.

      As the Philippine Constabulary band played the soft strains of “Nearer My God To Thee” the murdered crusader’s casket was gently laid to rest at the family burial plot, beside the graves of his youngest daughter, Karina, and his mother, Josefa Erfe-Mejia Garcia.

      Ermin Garcia was gunned down in the afternoon of May 20 at his Sunday Punch office by two persons, during a heavy downpour.

      Mike Soques rushed the wounded Garcia to the Pangasinan General Hospital where he was given prompt medical attention. He was operated on by a battery of physicians, most of whom were his close friends.

      The gallant efforts of doctors went futile, as he finally expired three hours later, at exactly 5:47 P.M. His wife, children and close family relatives were at his bedside when he died.

      He was survived by his wife, Paulita Fernandez-Garcia, son Ermin, Jr., and daughters Josie, Charisse and Frieda. He had previously edited the Pioneer Herald, the Counterpoint and Freedom magazines and was a one-time Rotary Scholar at the Columbia University School of Journalism in the U.S.A.

      Ermin Garcia was the first President of the Federation of Provincial Press Clubs of the Philippines and a member of the Philippine delegation to the Afro-Asian Journalists’ Conferences, held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1964.

      As President of the Dagupan City Rotary Club up to his death, he was mainly responsible for the program “STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS” which won the Rotary International “PAUL HARRIS AWARD” for the most outstanding project of the year.

      Necrological rites were held for the slain crusading newspaperman last Saturday, at the Pangasinan Medical Society building.

      Among the orators were: Press Secretary Jose Aspiras, Manila Times publisher Joaquin “Chino” Roces, Governor Francisco Duque, Mayor Liberato Reyna, Past NPC President Nereo Andolong, present NPC President Tirso Rodriguez, Cong. Aguedo Agbayani, Rotary Governor Jose Barredo, NPC Vice-President Stephen Sergio, Philippine Press Institute director Johnny Mercado, Dr. Blas Rayos, Sr., Romulo Villamil of the Sunday Punch, Dagupan Rotary Acting President Renan Santos, Bank Executive Romeo Alegria. YPLC President Rosalynda de Venecia, Rotary Ann President Ruby Concepcion de Guzman, Jaycee President Gabriel Zabala, Boy Scout Executive Candido Guadiz, Federated PTA President Victorino Daroya, Manila Times columnist Maximo Soliven, and          Rev. Fr. Guido Tiong.

Ermin Garcia, Jr. the slain editor’s only son, delivered the response in behalf of the family –


“ERMIN GARCIA” was a symbol of what every newspaperman should aspire to be. Ermin could have come to Manila, as many journalist and writers of promise do, and made his mark in the metropolitan press. But he felt that his vocation lay a home, and it was to make happier and better the community in which he lived. And so he started the Sunday Punch, a weekly newspaper that never failed to live up to its name.”

WILLIE NG, The Manila Bulletin, May 22, 1966

“FOR ERMIN GARCIA, Editor and Publisher of Dagupan City’s Sunday Punch, we can gauge a very great respect among the newspaper community. He was a crusader, one of a vanishing breed. He was one of the few provincial newsmen who truly had the esteem of the Manila press. He belonged to that group of press elders whom cub reporters look up to. He had a fighting heart and he kept proving it.”

On his 51st death anniversary, we, staff of The PUNCH, we renew our commitment to the journalistic ideals he set in 1956.

State witness

ALLEGED scam queen Janet Lim Napoles is in the news again.  The 17th Division of the Court of Appeals had overturned a lower court decision finding Napoles guilty of serious illegal detention.  The verdict penned by Associate Justice Normandie Pizarro and seconded by Associate Justices Jhosep Lopez and Samuel Gaerlan found Napoles not guilty of detaining Benhur Luy in 2012.

The CA found Napoles’ crime as both not sufficiently determined and not sufficiently established beyond the standard reasonable doubt.  However, she remains in jail for a plunder case, arising from her alleged anomalous P10-billion deals with several politicians and government officials now pending at Sandiganbayan.

Don’t look now but Napoles is also suddenly being seriously considered by the Department of Justice to turn state witness.  There’s a hitch:  A rule says only the least guilty in any court case may be considered as a state witness.  Will this be set aside, Napoles being the identified mastermind in the “mother of all plunders” case?

Your guess is as good as ours.

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