CHICAGO (JGL) – It was an unseasonably warm morning of February 4, 1985 when Tim M. Olivarez, correspondent of Tempo, a sister publication of Manila Bulletin, accompanied me in covering a murder case in Bulacan.
On our way back to the Bulletin, Tim told me that he was going to see a smuggling lord, Jose “Don Pepe” Oyson, that night. I asked him if I could join him.
Tim agreed provided I met him at about 7 that night inside our common beat – the Makati Police headquarters. For some reason, I forgot all about our rendezvous that night.
Two days later, Tim’s distraught wife, Cecille, called me up, asking for Tim’s whereabouts.
I told Cecille, “I had no idea.”
A Bikolano, like myself, Tim was also editing a community newspaper in Bataan province. Tim was never to be seen alive again since.
When I pored over the mechanics of Republic Act 10368, the law bestowing reparation and recognition on human rights victims under martial law, I just realized that Tim’s survivors could qualify as human rights claimants under the “Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012.”
First of all, the law covers the violations during the period from Sept. 21, 1972 to Feb. 25, 1986. Tim disappeared on Feb. 4, 1985. And
Secondly, the violations should be committed by “agents of State, including President Marcos, his spouse Imelda R. Marcos, their immediate relatives by consanguinity or affinity, their immediate and close relatives, associates, cronies and subordinates.”
On board my car, Tim was telling me that Don Pepe was upset that he described in his Tempo article days earlier the modus operandi on how Don Pepe smuggled goods from Hong Kong to his turf in Paranaque beach.
SMUGGLER USES TELECOPE TO MONITOR HIS MEN
According to Tim, Don Pepe was holed up in one of the high-rise hotel rooms across the U.S. Embassy on Roxas Boulevard in Manila. Using a telescope, Don Pepe would follow several boats, carrying smuggled goods unloaded from a ship moored in either the north or south harbor and would take the goods to Don Pepe’s Manila Bay beachfront.
At the beachfront were several guards, some of them were subordinates of then Maj. Roberto (Bobby “Bungo”) Ortega of the Philippine Constabulary Metropolitan Police Command (Metrocom) Strike Force, waiting for the smuggled cargo. Major Ortega and his men were there to protect the delivery of Don Pepe’s smuggled goods.
“After my story was published in Tempo, Bobby Ortega went looking for me,” Tim told me. “Bobby even called up the Tempo offices. But it was Ruther (D. Batuigas, chief of reporters of Tempo), who answered the phone. Ruther told me Bobby sounded upset about me writing the smuggling story.”
As crime reporter for Manila Bulletin, I personally came to know Bobby Ortega during my coverage. Every time, there was bank robbery in Quezon City, whenever police reporters, including myself, rushed to scene, I always saw inside a bank a mestizo (light skinned) guy, who was oftentimes wearing civilian clothes, beating the Quezon City police first responders to the bank robbery scenes. I had a suspicion Bobby was part of the bank robbers.
I found out later that the “mestizo” guy was Bobby Ortega.
I also later learned that Bobby Ortega was the son of Carmen Ortega, said to be a “mistress” of President Marcos.
That is why when charges were filed against Don Pepe Oyson and others for murder for the disappearance of Tim, I never volunteered the name of Bobby Ortega as Don Pepe’s conspirator in the Tim’s murder because I was scared of “Bungo” (skull in Filipino language). Neither could I write it in Manila Bulletin because all the newspapers under martial law were controlled by the Marcoses. Oyson was later convicted of murder and was later reportedly “salvaged” (extra-judicially executed) by men under Gen. Alfredo Lim when Lim became director of the National Bureau of Investigation.
As I desperately tried to have an audience with President Marcos, I asked a friend, the late Deputy Metro Manila Governor Mel Mathay, to have me and other officers of The Rizal Metro Tri Media, Inc. (Tri-Media) be inducted by the President in Malacanang. I wanted to whisper to President Marcos that his “nephew,” Bobby Ortega, was the mastermind in the disappearance of Tim. But I wimped out at the last minute.
I only told the President to provide my group reward money of P100,000 (US$25,000 at P20 to US$1 exchange rate in 1985) for information that could lead to the suspects behind Tim’s disappearance. President Marcos told then Director Greg Cendana of the National Media Production Center to source the P100,000 from the Marcos Foundation. Even after running a Malacanang press release that President Marcos ordered a grant of P100,000 reward money to our group, Director Cendana never handed me the P100,000 reward money.
FORTUNATELY, THERE WAS NO CLAIMANT
Fortunately, nobody came forward with credible information that will compel us to release the reward money.
The only benefit that my Tri-Media was able to give to the wife of Tim was the P25,000 (US$1,250) insurance coverage that my group was able to buy with premiums provided us by some of our friends, among them then San Juan Mayor and later President Joseph E. Estrada, now Manila mayor.
When I left Manila to join my parents and siblings in Chicago, I later learned that the officers of Tri-Media discontinued the insurance coverage of its members and decided to divide among themselves about P100,000 (US$25,000) that I left in the bank so they can continue paying premiums for their insurance coverage.
I will be losing sleep if I will not write about my personal knowledge of Bobby Ortega’s link to the disappearance of Tim now that the deadline for filing of human rights claim is coming up on Nov. 10, 2014.
Another newsman reportedly told Bobby Ortega that he is one of the suspects in Tim’s disappearance but Bobby reportedly denied it.
But I want to hear it myself from Bobby Ortega. I tried to reach out to him in Baguio City, where he reportedly later became a city official, to ask him why Tim mentioned his name before Tim disappeared. But I did not get any response. Hopefully, Ortega will get in touch with me if he reads this column.
And if Cecille Olivarez can read this column, too, she or Tim’s heirs can clip this column and use this as a supporting document that will testify that Bobby Ortega, the “nephew” of President Marcos, has blood in his hands in the disappearance of Tim Olivarez. If not, Cecille or Tim’s relatives can send me a sworn statement that I will sign before the Philippine Consulate in Chicago to testify that Tim Olivarez was a victim of human rights violations by the “agents of State, including President Marcos, his spouse Imelda R. Marcos, their immediate relatives by consanguinity or affinity, their immediate and close relatives, associates, cronies and subordinates.”
Cecille Olivarez, you or Tim’s heirs, have on or before Nov. 10, 2014, to get in touch with me thru my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or thru my Facebook, Joseph G. Lariosa.
Or Cecille or Tim’s heirs can file your claim before the Human Rights Violations Claims Board, chaired by Gen. Lina C. Sarmiento. The HRVCB is accepting applications thru its Secretariat at E. Virata Hall E. Jacinto St., U.P. Diliman Campus Diliman, Quezon City1101 Philippines. It can be reached at Tel. No. 373.4847 or at E-mail: email@example.com or access this link: http://www.hrvclaimsboard.gov.ph/
PHOTO CAPTION AND CREDITS
Photo of Tim M. Olivarez (JGL File Photo)
SO NEAR YET SO SCARED: President Marcos (fifth from right) inducts a group of journalists led by Joseph G. Lariosa (to Marcos’ right), president of The Rizal Metro Manila Tri-Media (Tri-Media) and now a Chicago, Illinois-based correspondent of Journal GlocaLinks. Lariosa asked President Marcos to help his group locate the whereabouts of missing Tempo correspondent Tim M. Olivarez. Lariosa wanted to whisper to the President that it was his “nephew,” Maj. Roberto “Bobby” Ortega, who was behind Olivarez’ disappearance but wimped out on the last minute. Olivarez went missing on Feb. 4, 1985 and is still missing to this day. (JGL File Photo)
FRIEND OF THE MEDIA: Filipino journalist Joseph G. Lariosa (fifth from left) celebrates after his party slate won in an election of officers of reporters group, The Rizal-Metro Manila Tri-Media, Inc. (Tri-Media), in early 80’s. Raising his right hand (to his right) is then San Juan, Metro Manila Mayor and later Philippines President Joseph E. Estrada, now Manila mayor. Estrada was there to extend financial support for the survivors of missing newsman Tim M. Olivarez of Tempo, sister publication of Manila Bulletin. (JGL File Photo)