Veteran journalist Melo Acuña, a correspondent and opinion writer for LiCAS.news, succumbed to COVID-19 early morning on Friday, August 27. He was 64.
Acuña’s wife Jhona posted on social media that the journalist passed away at 2:30 a.m. “Please pray for the eternal repose of his soul,” she wrote.
“Please also pray for me that I will have complete healing,” added Jhona who posted late on Thursday that Acuña was “in critical condition.”
Acuña and his wife were infected with the coronavirus disease early this week.
“[He] is best remembered for the media fora he regularly moderated at Aristocrat, Lido and Cafe Lupe, giving space to both government and opposition,” wrote media educator and journalist Danny Arao.
Acuña was known for his coverage of church issues and events.
“He is a big loss to the media community in the Philippines,” said Jose Torres Jr., editor-at-large of LiCAS.news.
“Melo has been a guide, a pastor, for many of us who cover the Church and the faith movements in the country. He will be missed,” added Torres.
“Every life lost to COVID-19 is a tragedy, but this particular loss is so very close to us,” said Peter Monthienvichienchai, executive director of LiCAS.news.
“It has truly been a privilege to have been his colleague. Jhona and the rest of his family are in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.”
“He was known for his professionalism and high ethical standards as a journalist,” said Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security.
“He was an intellectual, a good person,” Egco said.
Acuña started as a campus journalist during his high school and college days in the Bicol region before landing a job at DWCW-GTV in Lucena city where he reported from the field and hosted evening music shows.
He later worked at DWGW-IBC in Legazpi City and became a stringer for Reuters and correspondent for Manila Bulletin in the 1980s.
In 1994, he joined DZRV-Radio Veritas and covered various government agencies in the national capital. He became station manager of the church-run station in 2004.
Acuña joined the Media Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in 2007 and became correspondent for China Radio International from 2010 to 2018.
He began writing for Asia Pacific Daily in 2018 and contributed stories and opinion pieces to LiCAS.news in 2019.
He was an accredited broadcast journalist with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and an active member of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
The World Health Organization this week said the Philippines ranked third on the list of 28 countries in the Western Pacific with the most COVID-19 infections.
The WHO urged the government to start its “last-mile” vaccination of its priority populations, particularly seniors and persons with comorbidities.
It said that data as of Aug. 25 showed that the countries with the highest number of new cases were Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
The WHO said the Philippines was facing a surge in cases not only in the capital but also in multiple provinces, as he took note of overwhelmed hospitals and “really exhausted” healthcare workers.
He said the Delta variant, by far the most transmissible of the SARS-CoV-2 variants, was partly driving the surges in the Western Pacific and now contributed more than 10 percent of new cases and 8 percent of deaths globally during the first three weeks of August.