A ‘vindication’ after 9 years

BEFORE proceeding, here is thanking Manila mayor, Isko Moreno, for gracing yesterday’s ‘Report to the Nation’ media forum of the National Press Club (NPC), which, expectedly, turned out to be a ‘jampacked affair.’

And many thanks too, to media colleague, Cesar Chavez, Mayor Isko’s chief of staff and NPC director, Aya Yupangco, for ensuring the success of yesterday’s activity.

As for the NPC, here’s informing all our members that we had a very fruitful talk with ‘Boss’ Cesar on how both the NPC and Manila City Hall can work together for the benefit of the Club and its members.

In other words, all I can say for now is…Abangan!

***

The one happy news that I got to read yesterday at the PDI was the report that those military and police officials behind the arrest of the so-called, ‘Morong 43’ were finally acquitted by the Sandiganbayan, a vindication, which took more than nine years to conclude.

To recall, on February 6, 2010, a joint police and military operation raided a farm-cum-resort in Tanay, Rizal, where 43 members and sympathizers of the CPP-NPA-NDFP were conducting a clandestine meeting disguised as a seminar for rural health workers.

Among the ‘lectures’ being given to the participants is an “ABC” for terrorism, such as the making of IEDs (improvised explosive device), which has become part of the NPA’s “arsenal” since getting the “education” on bomb-making from the MILF during their brief “alliance” at the height of Pres. Erap’s “total war” in Mindanao during his term.

As I was covering the Southern Tagalog region at the time and were quite familiar with both sides in the conflict (the military and the guerillas), I remember receiving a call from then 202nd Brigade chief, Leo Baladad, informing me of the result of their operation.

Baladad was the successor of another good friend, MGen. Jorge ‘Brother’ Segovia, who was then the 2nd Infantry Division chief (he would also succeed Segovia later on as Eastern Mindanao area commander, EMC).

After my talk with Baladad, I recall immediately calling then SOLCOM chief, Lt. General Delfin Bangit to get a reaction and to also caution him to handle the situation “very carefully.”  I noted that two of those arrested were no “ordinary” persons, Dr. Merry Mia Clamor and Dr. Alex Montes. As a reporter, I suddenly had a “gut feel” that this would be a “controversial” arrest story.

And as this was the term of PGMA, where the divisive manner by which she became president in 2001(with the help of the military) and the ‘Hello Garci’ scandal still lingering in memory, blackening the military at the time is always an easy job.

And it is a job made easier because the CHR at the time was headed by Leila de Lima who went out of her way to accuse the military of “torturing” those arrested, of denying them the right to counsel and in helping propagate the line that those arrested were indeed ‘health workers’ and not members of the armed communist movement.

Indeed, it was these fabrications by the front organizations of the NDFP, echoed by De Lima and her CHR, that were used by them as bases in filing the cases against the government and in support of this, in their black propaganda against the AFP over the years to include blocking the...

...rightful promotion of Baladad and Segovia before the Commission on Appointments.

That the Left was successful in their effort to turn reality on its head was shown by the fact that when Noynoy Aquino became president he ordered the release of the suspects on December 10, 2010, to coincide with the commemoration of International Human Rights Day.

Now, whether Noynoy was a truly “clueless person” or, just like his father before him, a “closet ally” of the communists for releasing all the suspects despite being presented evidence proving they were NPAs, he should be the one to explain that now.

***

Although those now acquitted—Gen. Segovia, Gen. Baladad, Gen. Joselito Reyes, Colonel Cristobal Zaragoza, Major Jovily Cabading, Police Colonel Marion Balonglong and, Police Colonel Allan Nobleza have received their full vindication due to the July 1 decision of the Sandiganbayan, events after 2010 proved that it was the Left that has been lying all along.

Indeed, just weeks into their detention, 5 of the 43 decided to come clean and admitted that yes, Jose, they were members of the NPA. And so, from ‘Morong 43,’ it was reduced to ‘Morong 37.’

Also, in the succeeding skirmishes between the military and the NPA in Southern Tagalog, among the guerilla casualties are the same people who, just weeks back, were insisting they were ‘health workers’ and not communist fighters, a fact that I know of because I used to file stories about these firefights.

There is so much to be learned from this ‘telenovela,’ especially on how successful the NDFP was in dominating its narrative for nearly ten years and how, on the other hand, the military and the government failed to match this narrative.

But for now, here’s yours truly joining these fine gentlemen—and lady—in celebrating the closure of this sad chapter in their lives. Justice, vindication, and the truth are out, finally!

Translation? “Butata” ang Kaliwa, aguy, aguy, aguy!

And yes, ‘Brother Jojie,’ magpainom ka naman, hehe! Long time no see!