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Murder spin-offs

/ 10:45 PM August 24, 2012

The Inquirer column “Cozy amnesia” (Viewpoint, 8/21/12) gives the names of two people still alive who, according to San Francisco columnist Rodel Rodis, “know all too well who ordered the hit on Ninoy [Aquino].” But writes historian-economist Benito Legarda Jr.: “They are unlikely to tell, and for all anyone knows, one of them could be it. [But] is there any possibility of recalling those who declined to testify—from the airport mechanic to [Rolando] Galman’s stepdaughter?

“[What about] querying those known to be involved, like Col. Vicente Tigas and the driver of the van that took hours to deliver the bodies to the morgue? Where is Capt. [Felipe] Valerio, who told the Agrava Panel he would tell them everything, but disappeared the following day?

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“The statute of limitations does not run when one is abroad. Can Col. Romeo Ochoco be extradited from the US? During the 20 years the guilty soldiers were in jail, their families were well provided for financially. Is it possible to identify the source of funds?”

No, it’s not realistic to expect Imelda Marcos or Eduardo Cojuangco to “sing” about Ninoy Aquino’s murder, writes engineer Leonor Lagasca of Iloilo City. “They’ll wait in however-gotten material comfort until Judgement Day. That’s when all of us will be made to account even for the last idle word we uttered.”

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Ferdinand Marcos boasted he created a “command society.” Ninoy’s murder occurred in that “command society.” Marcos had all the power and, thereby, hogged all responsibility, as People Power stressed. In return, history has locked him out of the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Like Ninoy and Cory, the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo never sought such honor.

But today we must ask about others linked to Ninoy’s murder by M/Sgt Pablo Martinez. A born-again Christian, he “preached from the housetops” what the other convicted soldiers refused to do.

Martinez claimed that businessman Herminio Gosuico was present when Ochoco and Gen. Romeo Gatan of the Philippine Constabulary ordered him to escort Galman from an airport hotel airport to the tarmac. Neither Gatan nor Gosuico was ever charged with involvement in the conspiracy.

Gatan died of a heart ailment. “Did Gosuico die of illness or accident, or was he eliminated because he knew too much?” columnist Antonio Abaya asked years back. “Can a follow-up inquiry bring back Ochoco who reportedly fled with his family to somewhere in Stockton, California?”

Re “Cozy amnesia” column, “I agree completely with Fr. [Bienvenido] Nebres, SJ, that ‘we have little collective memory of the past,’” e-mails retired De La Salle professor Adelaida Bago. “That’s why many evils of the past continue to recur despite efforts by men of goodwill to create a better future for Filipinos. As Eugene O’Neill wrote in ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten’: ‘There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now.’”

“And whose fault is it?” Angioline Loredo comments from Hoboken, New Jersey. “I think everybody’s—the schools’, the Church’s, the social institutions’, the adults’ (including myself), etc. Having said that, maybe we should stop whining about the absence of ‘collective memory’ and each of us do our little bit in raising children who will grow up to be good adults, good citizens—regardless.

“I’m not quite as despairing as the people quoted in Viewpoint. History teaches us, among others, that things eventually get ‘corrected.’ Maybe not to our liking (those of us in the older generation)—but hey, it’s the younger generation’s life. Let them make their own life, mistakes and all. Boy, I am getting old—and conservative.”

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The column “Cozy amnesia” should be “incorporated in our elementary textbooks before it is totally forgotten,” writes Zeferino Arroyo from Quezon City. “It makes one get the feel of the cruelty [that] Marcos and his tribe inflicted on us….  Imelda and Bongbong never showed any remorse for what the Marcoses did.

“I recall that day Ninoy was shot, lying face down on the tarmac. No one bothered to check if he was still alive; instead, a group of soldiers threw him, like a slaughtered pig, into the waiting van. I’ve been hoping that that particular video clip would surface, sooner or later. My guess is that the same tribe must have confiscated it to suppress their act of cruelty.”

“Cozy amnesia” will “perform further public service if it throws light on the lowly servicemen linked to the 16-year-old murder of Navy Ensign Philip Pestaño” who have vanished, says Dr. Carolina Camara of Butuan. The ensign refused to load 14,000 board feet of illegal logs, weapons and shabu, on the BRP Bacolod. He was later found dead with a bullet wound.

Was it not fellow Inquirer columnist Raul Pangalangan who revealed that the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva said three comrades of Pestaño “all died or disappeared in mysterious circumstances”? Zosimo Villanueva of the Tawi-Tawi naval station had tipped Pestaño on the hot logs and shabu and was “lost at sea while on a mission.” Foul play is suspected, the UN said. Ship radio operator Fidel Tagaytay was summoned  to Navy headquarters. His wife Leonila reported that he later disappeared. There has been “no action or investigation by the Navy,” the UN added. Ensign Alvin Farone contacted Marissa, Pestaño’s sister, saying he wanted “to tell what really happened to Philip.” He died before he could do so.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has filed murder charges against 10 Navy officers. This is welcome. This no-nonsense investigator should also look into the faceless enlisted men who have no voice.

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E-mail: [email protected]

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TAGS: benigno `ninoy’ Aquino jr. assassination, capt. Felipe Valerio, col. Romeo ochoco, col. Vicente tigas, Eduardo Cojuangco, Imelda Marcos, Juan L. Mercado
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