According to the initial investigation, Maganes, a commentator on dwPR radio and columnist for weekly Northern Watch newspaper, was shot several times by unknown gunmen in black jackets riding in tandem. Police stated he was shot in the head and other parts of his body, killing him instantly.
Maganes had survived a prior assassination attempt on November 8, 2016, playing dead when motorcycle-riding gunmen shot and wounded him as he rode a tricycle to work. A cardboard sign was left near the spot reading "Drug pusher huwag pamarisan”, or “Drug pusher, do not emulate (be like him)”. The sign was intended to divert attention from the real motive behind the attempted murder.
In its statement, NUJP said Maganes was apparently unprotected despite the first assassination attempt remaining unsolved. He staunchly continued to work as a journalist regardless, representing his chapter at the NUJP's 10th Congress on June 2018. According to NUJP, Maganes is the 18th journalist murdered during the Duterte administration and the 190th since 1986.
The NUJP said: “We demand that authorities work fast to solve his death, which could be related to the botched attempt on his life on November 8, 2016. Even as we mourn the loss of a colleague and extend our heartfelt sympathies to all those he left behind; the community of independent Filipino journalists shall not let his death be in vain. We will continue to seek justice for Vir and all our other fallen colleagues as we continue our struggle for genuine freedom of the press and of expression in our country.”
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “IFJ is deeply saddened by this tragic murder and send our condolences to the friends and family of Maganes. We urge authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation to pursue justice against the violent perpetrators.”