By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
Lawyer Levito Baligod, who represents several widowed complainants in the “Pamplona Massacre” that counted Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo among the 10 fatalities, has told media that a snake has slithered its way to gunmen-turned-state witnesses to recant their testimonies identifying Rep. Arnie Teves as the mastermind of the March 4 bloodbath.
In a shocking display of treachery and subversion, this snake — according to Atty. Baligod — is a former undersecretary of justice who has undermined the prosecution of the main suspect in the Degamo multiple murder case.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has not denied that six or seven gunmen in custody have lawyered up and are recanting vital testimony that pins down Degamo’s political rival in one of the most gruesome crimes this century.
What’s deeply troubling is that this happened under the nose of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla because a former DOJ undersecretary had access to detainees in the hands of the National Bureau of Investigation during his watch. What a Hollow Man this ex-Usec has made of the erstwhile DOJ chief!
Expect the tables to be turned here and onwards. The suspects would at least claim coercion and bullying to invalidate their confessions and muddle the truth before the court.
If justice were indeed to be served in this case, this former DOJ Usec should be exposed and thrown into the cage with the proven murderers for the despicable act of betrayal that strikes at the heart of justice and the integrity of the judicial process.
Jail the onion smugglers
We’ve all heard the story before, but it seems Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo has to point the accusing finger all over again at Lilia “Lea” Cruz for masterminding the “biggest onion cartel” in the country. Yes, Cruz is behind that Philippine VIEVA Corporation, which lawmakers had previously zeroed in on for allegedly manipulating the onion market: controlling supply, buying cheap from farmers, setting ridiculously high prices in the guise of a shortage, and monopolizing the importation process.
In the Senate, Sen. Cynthia Villar did not hesitate to label the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act as an utter failure at the hands of the Bureau of Customs.
The BOC and Department of Justice (DOJ) waved their record of 142 pending cases filed against smugglers but, when probed further by senators, conveniently lacked the details, refraining from naming names.
Villar rightly pointed out that the influence of these smugglers on the Customs gatekeepers is overwhelming, and their failure to prosecute and convict even one of them since the enactment of the law in 2016 raises suspicion of collusion.
In the face of this seeming web of deceit, Sen. Robinhood Padilla boldly proposed the death penalty — perhaps, a crooked way of seeing things only matched by the crookedness of his mustache that requires regular combing in the middle of Senate hearings.
But I understand if many of our fellow Filipinos share the same sentiment against these menacing traders who prey on the nation and sabotage the onion supply and pricing to scrape a bloody profit off our backs.
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