Eyes On The Prize

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (jGLi) – I would like to congratulate Philippine Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo for telling his subordinates not to be hamstrung in their investigation of the attempted killing of newsman Fernan Angeles even if the Malacanang reporter for the Philippine Daily Tribune has a pending warrant on drug charges.

Relatives of Mr. Angeles have a Constitutional right to demand a speedy resolution of the killing, so police should not second-guess themselves that they are wasting their time.

It is very hard to solve the case if the trail grows cold. So, police should strike the iron while it is hot by pursuing the murderer no matter where it leads them. They should solve the case now and deal with the drug charges later.

And speaking of a solution of the killing of another newsman, Gerardo “Doc Gerry” Ortega, a popular radio broadcaster and environmentalist, I would also like to congratulate Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima for finding a probable cause based among others on forensic evidence – text messages – found in the cell phones of the hatchet man, Rodolfo Edrad Jr., and the mastermind, former Palawan Governor Joel Reyes, for Ortega’s killing.

I hope the same method of solving the killing of my friend, Salvador “Bubby” Dacer, will also be applied.

Days before and on the day of the kidnapping and abduction of Mr. Dacer and Mr. Dacer’s driver, Emmanuel Corbito, cell phones were easily the instruments of choice in carrying out the grisly double murder.

According to records of the case, the slain Col. Teofilo Vina, assigned as chief of the Presidential Anti-Organized Task Force (PAOCTF) in Central Visayas, was handpicked to carry out the kidnapping and killing of Dacer and Corbito because he could not be suspected of carrying out the murder because he was away in far-off Cebu.

But, of course, Mr. Vina was perfect for the job because he was from Cavite, where Dacer and Corbito were later kidnapped and incinerated before they were strangled. Vina knew the terrain of the place and handpicked the killers.

Unfortunately, Vina was silenced when he was shot and killed by four gunmen in 2003 in Cavite before he could tell the court who ordered him to abduct Dacer.

I hope investigators were able to preserve the text and voice mail messages that could be culled from Vina’s cell phone and other suspects and be presented in court as evidence in the ongoing double murder trial.

ARNADO SHOULD BE ARRESTED

And I also hope former police chief inspector Vicente Arnado of PAOCTF, who is believed to be in the U.S., will also be arrested so he can complete the puzzle.

The use of cell phone as evidence was unheard off decades ago.

Today, even if you are in the farthest corner of the world or you are having fun in a $30-$40-million trip to space, you still can give last-minute instructions to the hired murderers on how to carry out the murders as if you are just calling or texting from next door.

Former Gov. Reyes made an amateur and stupid mistake of sending text messages using his cell phone to Edrad to carry out the killing even if he was abroad. He did not realize that text messages like voice mail messages are now considered evidence in court and part of the discovery process, like DNA and fingerprints.

When he texted Edrad, “Sana pag-uwi ko ay tapos na ang problema” (I hope when I get home, the problem would be over.)

“OK po

Ingat” (Take care.),” Governor Reyes incriminated himself just like the alibi of Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, who said he was in Malacanang when the mass murder of journalists was in progress in Maguindanao. Didn’t Reyes and Ampatuan know that Gov. Ampatuan could just easily call his relatives to carry out or be updated with the gruesome mass murders by using his cell phone?

During the time that there was no cell phone, here’s how a murder conspiracy was carried out.

Former Secretary of Justice and concurrent Secretary of National Defense Secretary Oscar Tombo Castelo, a relative of incumbent Sen. Vicente “Tito” Castelo Sotto III, on June 8, 1953 before leaving for Korea “but before boarding the plane at the airfield, called his nephew Augusto Melencio (who was also agent of the Defense Department) and (Bienvenido) “Ben Ulo” (Mendoza, a police character and an ex-convict) and told them, “Huwag lang hindi ninyo mapatay si (Manuel P.) Monroy bago ako dumating.” (Don’t fail to kill Monroy before my return) to which Ben Ulo replied, “Huwag kang mag-alala, halos patay na siya.” (Don’t you worry, he is as good as dead.)

‘BLACKMAILER” AND “DOUBLE-CROSSER” DO NOT DESERVE TO DIE

Of course, the Philippine Supreme Court did not buy the denial of Castelo, a former Manila trial judge, that he could not have killed a “blackmailer” and “double-crosser” in Monroy because Monroy “had voluntarily promised to retract his testimony given before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

“Castelo had reasons to distrust such promise, supposing it was made; and so, partly in revenge and partly to silence him forever, Castelo chose violent death having as he had, hardy henchmen to bring it about. The Blue Ribbon investigation could only produce removal from office. But disbarment will scuttle his means of support; and a rap for bribery could lead to prison. So “kailangan mapatay si Monroy,” as he said.”

The case was dismissed for lack of evidence, against Adelaida Reyes, Dr. Herminia Castelo-Sotto (the mother of Sen. Tito Sotto), Felix Tamayo and Leonardo Caparas. Rogelio Robles, (for) turning state witness, was discharged

On April 29, 1953, (the late) Senator Claro M. Recto (grandfather of incumbent Sen. Ralph G. Recto), aired on the floor of the Senate charges against Castelo for bribery and extortion, allegedly perpetrated when Castelo was still Manila judge. The following month and at the instance of Secretary Castelo, Senator Recto found himself a defendant in a bigamy case in the Court of First Instance of Bulacan. Recto countered with a disbarment charge, and the feud between them gained wide publicity, involving as it did two prominent public officials. Recto’s charges were investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, with Monroy as Recto’s star witness to the charging (sic) or irritation of both Castelo and Ben Ulo who had exerted efforts to prevent him from so testifying. Moreover, Monroy was likely to be again a witness in the disbarment proceedings — instituted by Recto — before the Supreme Court, which rested on the same charge of bribery.

Castelo and seven others, including Ben Ulo and Melencio, were later sentenced to a life in prison due to “interlocking confessions” that could have laid down a precedent that the act of one is the act of all.

I am sure the mastermind in the killing of my friend, Demy Dingcong, Cagayan de Oro City correspondent of Manila Bulletin, took a page out of Castelo by giving verbal orders to his bodyguards before leaving for the United States in the 80’s. There was no cell phone yet, then. The bodyguards, who were soldiers, admitted receiving $400 each to carry out the murder conspiracy. They did not name their mastermind, a Mindanao provincial governor, who delivered the votes of the “birds and the bees” for President Marcos just as the Ampatuans did for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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