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Home Columns JGL Eye Prosecution of Dingcong Killer Could Have Averted Maguindanao Massacre of Journalists
Prosecution of Dingcong Killer Could Have Averted Maguindanao Massacre of Journalists PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - JGL Eye
Written by Joseph G. Lariosa   
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 19:14

 

JGL Eye 

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2009 Journal Group Link International)


  

C HICAGO, Illinois (JGLi) – The lean delegation of the National Press Club of the Philippines from Manila nearly eight years ago was surprised when a delegate, Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, was singled out to remove his shoes at the port of entry into the United States.


Mr. Reblando, a veteran correspondent of the Manila Bulletin, was part of the delegation led by its president, Louie Logarta of the Philippine Daily Tribune. They were then heading to the National Press Club in
Washington, DC, to renew the reciprocity agreement between the NPC of Manila and the NPC of the United States, as arranged by this columnist.


It turned out Bong Reblando was chosen to remove his shoes not because he hailed from Muslim Mindanao but because he was chosen at random as the tenth passenger by the U.S. Transportation
Security Administration (TSA). It was a precautionary measure to avoid a repeat of the 9/11 crash of airlines into the Twin Towers in New York just two months earlier.


Mel T. Velasco, also a correspondent of the Manila Bulletin and now a book author, told me, “namutla si Bong nang pinatangal sa kanya ang kanyang sapatos pero kami hindi. (Bong turned pale when he was singled out to remove his shoes while we were not).”

Removing the shoes at the airport at the time was still a novelty because it was still underpublicized.


Reblando, who hails from boxing hero Manny Pacquiao’s hometown of
General Santos City, was able to collect himself, when he was eventually allowed into the U.S. soil.


LAST TRIP TO
U.S.


B ut it would be his last trip to the
United States as he was among the two dozens of journalists massacred Monday (Nov. 23) while covering an election event in Maguindanao province in the Philippines.


Although, the initial story of the Bulletin did not mention about the gruesome fate of the journalists and others, I got a sobering email from former NPC President Roy Mabasa, chief of Bulletin’s reporters, confirming the story in the Philippine Star that Bong Reblando and other journalists were brutally killed.


Roy
said, “all of them were shot at close range with M16 rifle in various parts of the body, including in the face, while Bong was shot at close range with a shotgun. Most of the bodies were beyond recognition, some almost completely blown out.


“My feeling is that this case will just drag on until such time that people will forget this carnage again. Remember, election campaign has almost started. The sad part here is that this government - the executive and the military - have no control over warlords, especially in that area where people thrive in guns and gold.


“It's really a shame that this kind of barbarism do happen in this country, making war fronts like Afghanistan and Pakistan a safer place for journalists.”

 

IT’S JUST A WASTE LIKE THE DINGCONG KILLING

 

B ong Reblando’s former boss in the Bulletin, Tony Antonio, provincial news editor, who recently immigrated to Michigan and is now publishing a community newspaper, Michigan Filipino Star, said, “sayang si Bong. I recommended him as staff member nasama pa sa mga biktima. Nakakasama ng loob.” (It’s just a waste. I recommended Bong to be a staff member. He was among the victims. It breaks my heart.”)


It was indeed devastating to hear about the horrific death of a friend, who is just trying to eke out a living and trying to find a place under the sun. The worse about it is that he did not even have a chance to defend himself. And what’s even worse is that he has no hazard insurance that would give benefits to his children he left behind.


Bong would be my second colleague in the Bulletin that I personally knew and had worked with to suffer the same fate. He was killed while doing his job as a reporter. Demy Dingcong, Bulletin’s correspondent of Cagayan de Oro City, was the first one I met and had meaningful conversations with; he was shot and killed in mid-1980s in his house by a wayward soldier.


If only Dingcong’s killer, a bodyguard of a powerful mastermind, who was also a
Mindanao governor, was exposed and prosecuted, this massacre last Monday would not have happened.


The
Mindanao governor behind the Dingcong assassination was a close ally of Ferdinand Marcos, who like, the suspected masterminds in the massacre of Reblando and other journalists, also delivered votes for Arroyo. The mastermind in the Dingcong assassination delivered for Marcos in Mindanao the votes that included the birds and bees.


The Dingcong’s killer and mastermind eluded justice. The mastermind became a poster boy of bad behavior by other warlords and politicians, not only in
Mindanao but also in other parts of the Philippines, where the corrupt politicians act as judges, jurors and executioners in their own kingdoms.

 

RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE

 

I hope the mass media will adopt the retributive justice of the police: if somebody kills a policeman, the police will surely go after the killer.


In the same way that if someone kills a newsman or newsmen, news outfits should identify the suspect/s if only to get even with the killer or killers.


The alleged masterminds in the massacre,
Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.; his brother, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan; and their father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., should always be mentioned in the story even if they are influential allies of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.


The moment their names will be dropped from the headlines, it will prove the widely-held suspicion that the Ampatuans are above the law because they delivered the votes to Arroyo in the 2004 (and 2007) disputed elections.


With the Ampatuans behind her, Mrs. Arroyo did not really need the “Hello, Garci” tapes that nearly forced her to step down.


Giving the Ampatuans a pass will be patronage of the worst kind and will only embolden other warlords/politicians now populating the Congress and the Senate, whose members also keep their own private armies.


The Ampatuans are like a dictator of a South-American country, who sometimes does not want even the leaves to move.


The massacre is symptomatic of the culture of dynastism and factionalism in that country.


It appears that rich and old families do not want to lose their wealth even if their numbers are growing and unwisely depleting their own resources.


In order to keep up with their lifestyles, they need to keep their influence that will preserve their wealth.


The best means to preserve their wealth is for these families to contribute to the campaign kitties of corrupt politicians. Or run for offices themselves even if they don’t have administrative capabilities.


Unless, the wealthy politicians leave the matter of running local or national affairs to honest and capable politicians, instead of handing their power down their offspring, who don’t have moral bearings and other wherewithal, they will always resort to dirty tricks, including cheating and assassination of their rivals and innocent bystanders like newsmen.


By not running for other office, Mrs. Arroyo should send a signal to the Ampatuans that they have no more influential backer to turn to and it’s time that they should turn themselves in. # # #
(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 

© opyright 2009 The Journal Group Link International. The contents provided in the JGLi may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of the Journal Group Link International.

 

(Editor’s Note: Watch out for the upcoming outlet-oriented, subscription-based website of Journal Group Link International that guarantees originally sourced stories, features, photos, audios and videos and multi-media contents.)

 

 


Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 November 2009 21:16
 
Comments (2)
1 Thursday, 26 November 2009 07:00
ACT SWIFTLY NOW ON MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE (Statement of the Archbishop, Bishops & the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Manila)

The power of the media brought to our living rooms heart-rending images of the savagery that had been let loose by brutal men in a village of Maguindanao on hapless civilians including women and journalists.

We are shocked and appalled that such an act could be carried out in broad daylight with indescribable brazenness and effrontery, that it seemed the perpetrators were confident that they could not be made accountable for it.

We join our peace-loving countrymen—Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the Archbishop of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Fernando Capalla of the Bishops Ulama Conference among them, and Muslim religious leaders, among them part of the National Ulama Conference of the Philippines—in condemning the Maguindanao massacre as a “crime against God and humanity; a crime against Allah and humanity.” Cardinal Vidal pointed to the act as “unheard of and horrifying.” Indeed, we add our voices to theirs in strong condemnation of this evil deed.

Such an act should not go unpunished; it cries out most vehemently for justice. This is a task that our government must attend to with utmost urgency and speed. The hearts of Filipinos who love peace and who adhere to democracy are restless and uneasy. After all, the victims were civilians performing a democratic task—participating in the democratic election process on the part of the local politicians and exercising freedom of the press on the part of the media people. The murders assault our democratic principles; they shatter our peace.

We call on the President to exert her leadership most forcefully in this regard so that this great wound on our national psyche and on our democratic institution be bandaged and brought to healing before it opens up into more tragic consequences. It is a responsibility she must face if she desires wholeness for her country and people.

We pray for all the victims, that God will give their souls eternal rest and peace. We offer our deepest sympathies to their families, and pray that God’s loving embrace may comfort them in their moments of immeasurable grief; that they may find consolation and surcease in their faith.

We pray that the smoldering fire of hatred and anger among those who seek power through elected positions be doused with the water of peace and love, and commitment to genuine service and the common good.

+GAUDENCIO B. CARDINAL ROSALES
Archbishop of Manila

+ BRODERICK S. PABILLO
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

+ BERNARDINO C. CORTEZ
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
2 Friday, 04 December 2009 17:47
Dynastism is quite kind... It should have been warlordism. Alam mo, it was ironic. During the time of Zacharias Candao, as governor of ARMM, hindi masyadong nakakaporma ang mga warlords doon. Pero after Erap, as president, waged an all-out war against them at natanggal si Erap, lalong lumakas ang loob nila...

I frequented ARRM, also Maguindanao, in the 90s, hindi pa ganyan kalakas ang mga Ampatuan. Only after, the old man Ampatuan became close to GMA na naging malakas ito at nakapagtayo ng private army...

So, how are you... naalala mo pa ako? ... Space World and bar jaunts in the early 80s...

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