A low-profile Member of Congress broke his silence last week and launched a stinging tirade and expose against controversial former general-turned-Bantay Rep. Jovito Palparan.
Palparan is widely known as “the butcher” for “inspiring” the extrajudicial murder of activists when he was still an officer of the Philippine Army. If you remember, despite this bloody human rights record, President Arroyo singled out Palparan in one of her SONA speeches.
In his speech last Sept. 14, Rep. Reynaldo Uy of Western Samar did not mince words. It was at times shocking, at other times humorous, but the speech highlighted once more how Palparan demeaned the Philippine Army before and further besmirches Congress at present:
Madam Speaker, Majority Leader, colleagues, good afternoon. I rise on a question of collective and personal privilege.
For the information of everyone, for my eight-and-a-half years as a Congressman of the First District of Western Samar, this is my very first privilege speech because I was telling myself, in order that not to be controversial, you must remain quiet, observe, learn and educate yourself in legislative manners and refrain from hitting your colleague in Congress.
But I was hit by a colleague in his privilege speech in September 8, last week.
Madam Speaker, September 8 was a joyous day for the people of Calbayog City as it was our 317th Feast Day of Our Lady of Nativity. That was the good news. The bad news was that on that very same day, our feast was desecrated by an eight-page vicious attack delivered by an erstwhile military general who had belatedly joined Congress, camouflaged as a party-list Representative.
While I was observing the day in Calbayog in religious piety with my constituents, the general-turned-legislator was feasting on a mouthful of lies, attacking the integrity of the entire city officialdom, besmirching the socio-political conditions of Calbayog City and the First District of Samar which I represent, and seriously maligning the city of my birth and the city which I love dearly.
Now, I understand that the Privilege Hour can be utilized even beyond the lines of parliamentary decency. My academics taught me that parliamentary immunity is a mantle of protection that may be invoked by Congress against extrinsic disruptive lawsuits under the principles of co-equality and check and balance in government. I just learned that it doubles as a vicious tool of Pinocchio against a peer in Congress.
Mr. Speaker, I declare the privilege speech of General Palparan to be 100% big lie, making him the modern day Pinocchio of Congress, broken down as 50% defamatory, 20% irresponsible, 20% mercenary and the rest is plain braggadocio to float his Bantay Party-List in preparation for reelection in the 2010 general elections. And, sad to say, at my expense.
I shall traverse each and every point raised by the General for the purpose of setting the records straight and to exorcise innocent minds and disabuse the thoughts which could have succumbed to the hypnosis of deceit.
Why 50% defamatory? The privilege speaker of September 8, 2009, General Palparan, virtually declared all the institutions in the province of Samar as having conspired in establishing a lawless atmosphere where the rule of law is honored more in the breach than in the observance. He licentiously maligned in all conceivable terms the judiciary, prosecution, the police, the military, and all the local government officials. But I was the most hit, a colleague in Congress, because I was made to appear as if I was the inventor and author of anarchy in Calbayog City.
It is unconstitutional and, therefore, 20% irresponsible.
Madam Speaker, General Palparan has proposed to install a military mayor in Calbayog City. Imagine, this is unconstitutional and irresponsible. Where in the world can you hear a city having a military mayor installed? Let me remind him that the reason why we are assembled in this august hall is because of our belief in the ideals of democracy. He could have forgotten the constitutional dictum that civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. It may not be amiss to state that under no circumstances will his proposal be tenable as it is out of this world and unheard of.
Who is Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento that he wants to be replaced by a military mayor? Mayor Sarmiento is on his last term as city mayor. This is also his second term as Secretary General of the prestigious League of Cities of the Philippines. At present, he is the Chairman of the very, very powerful Regional Development Council of Region VIII. He is a multi-awarded mayor who was severely maligned by this shadowy general. If I list down all the awards and citations of Mayor Sarmiento, I might run out of time, I might not be able to respond to the accusations of General Palparan.
The City of Calbayog is a haven of peace and tranquility which is disrupted sometimes by violent quarrels just like in other cities, just like in other municipalities and in other provinces. But why pick Calbayog City alone? It is unfair, just as it is unfair to name every criminal who is apprehended in Metro Manila that comes from Samar or Leyte to be a member of Waray-Waray gang.
Allow me at this point to discuss the incriminating lies foisted by Congressman Palparan vis-a-vis the truth on the alleged killings being attributed to me and my political ally, Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento of Calbayog.
1. Felix Lucio, a former barangay captain for 15 years of Barangay Bagong Lipunan, an interior barangay of Calbayog City, was killed last June 9, 2009 and a murder case was filed against Lito Abajo. So the case of Felix Lucio is solved. There is an accused person, yet Palparan pointed to me as the culprit.
Let me give you a backgrounder of the situation. Last September 19, 2008—that was last year—the house of the same Felix Lucio in Barangay Bagong Lipunan was raided by elements of the Philippine Army coming from the 20th IB. I repeat, the Philippine Army where Palparan retired from.
During the raid, his son Lorenzo Lucio resisted and fought back and was killed in the ensuing gunfight. Felix Lucio reported the incident to the police but pointed to the present Barangay Captain Amado Laoyon and his brother Mateo as the perpetrators. The wife of Felix lost to Amado Laoyon in October 2007 barangay election. The PNP immediately arrested Barangay Captain Laoyon and brother Mateo, and a murder case was filed against them.
During the inquest proceedings, the military, your military, General Palparan, stood pat on the fact that it was their, it was your legitimate military operation, General Palparan. At least, the elements of the 20th IB were men enough to admit that that was their own operation. Barangay Captain Laoyon and his brother were eventually exonerated from indictment by the city prosecutor which was affirmed by the Office of the Ombudsman. They were eventually released last March 12, 2009. Therefore, the case of Felix Lucio originated when his son Lorenzo was killed by one of your own, from one of the members of the Philippine Army, and then you still point the case against me.
On the other hand, on July 19, 2009, Mateo Laoyon, my supporter and brother of Barangay Captain Amado Laoyon, was killed in an ambush by the so- called Terga group. The PNP filed cases of murder and frustrated murder against the Terga group.
The Terga group is well-known in the Happy Valley areas, the hinterland of Calbayog, as a group working for SPO1 Paterno Labian, who, for the information of General Palparan, is a well known hitman hired by my political adversaries.
2. He claimed that City Councilor Arturo Pasacas was killed by me, through my hitman. City Councilor Arturo Pasacas is very much alive but was declared dead by General Palparan on September 8, 2009, in his privilege speech before this august Body. Proof that Palparan lied is the physical presence of Councilor Pasacas, who is in the gallery at this very moment. He is the same person who was honored, if you remember, as the national awardee for agriculture in this august hall during the State-of-the-Nation Address of Her Excellency in July 2008.
Councilor Pasacas barely escaped death when he was ambushed last June 12, 2009 which, however, claimed the lives of his nephew and a supporter, after coming from a fiesta. Seven other companions were wounded. The good councilor belongs to my political party. He is my cumpadre and a very close friend. This incident was peddled by my opponents as my handiwork; double murder and frustrated murder cases have already been filed against one Emi Astorga and several others.
By the way, General Palparan, I hope and I pray that you are here to listen to my answer. Emi Astorga has always been in the payroll of my political opponents for whom you sponsored your privilege speech but unfortunately you were blabbering garbage culled from spurious information.
3. Mention was made about the death of a motor cab driver, Renato Cruda. Again, that person is alive and is right here before us. Mr. Renato Cruda, Ladies and Gentlemen.
The incident involving Renato was a simple altercation caused by disagreement in the motor cab line priority which was blown out of proportion by my opponents and their mouthpiece, General Palparan and his minions. By the way, Renato Cruda is a cousin of my close-in PNP security officer.
(4.) Regarding the death of one Ursos Luna last June 18, 2009, let it be clarified that this person is not a student but a well-known drug pusher in the city with several arrests to his record and pending warrants of arrest for violation of R.A. No. 9165. The incident is still under investigation by the local PNP. There was nothing political about his death.
No. 5. As to the death of Jonathan Isanan, a former councilor of Gandara, Samar, last June 25, 2009, my colleagues, especially General Palparan, how I wish you were here, please watch this video. (Video of one Jonathan Isanan)
“Para sa impormasyon ng nakararami, ako po ay si Jonathan Isanan. Ang nangyaring trahedya sa buhay kong ito has nothing to do with politics. Ang videong ito ay nagpapakita na ako, si Jonathan Isanan, ay buhay na buhay at nagpapasinungaling sa mga taong nagsasabi na ako ay patay na. Ang gusto ko sanang mangyari ay ako ay kusang loob na pupunta rito sa Congress. Dahil sa sitwasyon kong ito na ako ay hindi pa rin nakakalakad at ang advice ng aking doctor ay hindi puwede pa akong mag-travel, kaya ginawa ko na lamang ang videong ito. Maraming salamat.”
Thank you. Madam Speaker, our colleague, General Palparan, has a penchant for wishing people dead, probably because of his hangover from the killing fields in Mindoro, Samar, Leyte and in Central Luzon that he maintained during his days of military adventurism. He is still behaving like a coroner or a medico-legal officer when he declared the deaths of councilor Arturo Pasacas, Renato Cruda, Jonathan Isanan and Willy Bangga on September 8, 2009, when in truth and in fact, buhay na buhay sila.
Nagudtaym tayo ni Palparan. Nakuryente tayo ni Palparan. Siguro noong siya ay nasa serbisyo pa sa military, marami ang nadisgrasyang buhay dahil sa mali niyang akala at lumang-lumang mga intelligence reports na kanyang pinanghahawakan at pinakaingat-ingatan na parang bikining itim.
I hope appropriate charges are filed against Palparan by the families of these personalities who were prematurely and unceremoniously declared dead. Ano kaya ang kaso na puwedeng isampa—perjury, unethical conduct, murder through privilege speech?
No. 6. On June 29, 2009, Mark Ganter Montes was shot to death by one Michael Mendoza against whom a murder case was filed. The father of Mark is a barangay kagawad and a strong supporter of mine, while the suspect is a supporter of my political opponents.
No. 7. On July 1, 2009, Eduardo Coquilla, no relation to my good friend Congressman Coquilla of the Lone District of Eastern Samar, was killed because of a personal family dispute and a murder case was filed against the suspect, Cesar Navato, who is the brother-in-law, by the way, of the victim. There is nothing political in this incident. It was obviously a family feud that led to the crime.
No. 8. Regarding the killing of Jeffrey Palomares last July 4, 2009, a murder case was filed against Rogelio Salvame, and the reason behind the incident was also a dispute between the two families. So, again, I would like to repeat, there is an accused and still he would insist that I was behind all these.
No. 9. As to the death of Jodel Cabundoc and the wounding of his mother Arsenia Cabundoc last July 8, 2009, murder and frustrated murder cases were filed against Arat Septo, et al. The Cabundocs are my supporters as Jodel is a first cousin of one of my close-in security officers. General Palparan, supporters ko na ang pinapatay, if you will notice–binabaligtad mo pa rin.
No. 10. The death of farmer Gregorio Villanueva last July 12, 2009 is still pending investigation by the police authorities. The victim is a known supporter of Councillor Pasacas, the councillor who he claimed was killed and therefore if he is the supporter of Councillor Pasacas, he is also my supporter.
General Palparan said that Willy Bangga was again killed—that is number 11 case that he cited. He was only wounded last August 20, 2009. This was nothing but an ordinary police case involving non-remittances of fees under the boundary system for pedicabs. Bangga is very much alive but could not come here for reasons that we cannot explain.
12. Finally, the death of Private Robert Mahinay of the 46th IB stationed in Maguindanao, last September 6, just before the fiesta of Calbayog. It was far from political as it is now being viewed from a romantic angle by police authorities. A week after his wife delivered the baby, Private Mahinay, together with his paramour, left Mondragon of Northern Samar and stayed in one of the hotels in Calbayog. After the killing, the woman escaped. What is boggling is the fact that the wife of Mahinay came to know of the incident though a text message using the SIM card of the victim.
Madam Speaker, let me add also the ambush of Paul Tumnob last July 4, 2009 which resulted to his death. This was not mentioned in the speech of Palparan because the culprits were members of the Terga group under the auspices of SPO1 of Paterno Labian, and were identified so that General Palparan evaded this issue.
Madam Speaker, several attempts by the police and the Philippine Army to capture the members of the Terga Group who are subjects of numerous warrants of arrest have failed apparently because, their leader SPO1 Paterno O. Labian was always tipped off. Labian enjoys the status of a sacred cow bestowed upon him by no less than the governor of Samar, Milagrosa Tan. He has not reported for duty to his assigned station in San Jorge, Samar. He operates in Calbayog City particularly in the hinterlands where he is engaged in massive illegal logging and drug trafficking activities. He doubles as the lord, protector, and coddler of several private armies and guns-for-hire, like the Terga Group earlier mentioned whose members have existing warrants of arrest, and whose members are being protected by General Palparan.
There is one surprising and most glaring omission in the list submitted or exposed by Palparan in this august hall. I am wondering why General Palparan did not include the recent celebrated murder case of Mayor Carlos dela Cruz of Matuguinao. Matuguinao is still part of my district, the 1st district of Samar.
Let me give you a rundown of the incident.
Immediately after the killing of Mayor dela Cruz in Catbalogan, Samar—I repeat this happened not in Calbayog but in Catbalogan, Samar—last July 16, 2009, the provincial CIDG conducted an investigation and on the basis thereof, their operatives were about to pursue follow-up operations for the arrest of the suspects positively identified by the close-in PNP bodyguard of Mayor Dela Cruz and other witnesses.
They were preempted however by the Chief of Police of Catbalogan, Supt. Ramil Ramirez, by handily coming up with a suspect of his own, whom I later learned to be my supporter. Because of the confusion resulting from the killing, Supt. Ramil Ramirez was able to hoodwink the traumatized and grieving widow, Mrs. Melinda dela Cruz, into signing the complaint against the innocent party supporter. After regaining equanimity, the widow realized that she signed a bogus complaint, and withdrew her complaint and a new one has been instituted against the real perpetrators who were identified by the slain mayor’s PNP bodyguard and other witnesses.
The ill-motivated game plan was very obvious. Superintendent Ramil Ramirez, under the direction of his superior PNP Provincial Director Pancho Hubilla and under the instruction coming from Governor Tan and Ex-Congressman Rudy Tuazon, wanted to link me to the murder to inject politics and their quest for justice.
Lo and behold, the standout suspects are identified with my political adversaries. And Palparan did not include the killing of Mayor de la Cruz in the list because now, all the fingers point to the Vice Mayor and already the Mayor Matuguinao, Mayor Aran Boller, who is a close ally of Governor Mila Tan. Does he have selective amnesia?
The death of RTC Judge Roberto Navidad was likewise alluded to me as my handiwork. Court dockets will bear me out that I was not in any way dragged into any legal entanglement that would require the judicial intervention of the slain judge. But the most controversial case that the late Judge Navidad handled was the murder case of Mayor Jojo Grey of the Municipality of San Jorge wherein he was accused together with his son Francis Grey of masterminding the death of one municipal employee in October 3, 2005.
Mayor Jojo Grey wanted Judge Navidad to inhibit from handling the case, but he failed. He even petitioned the Supreme Court to transfer the venue of the case to Metro Manila, but he was also denied. Judge Navidad issued warrants of arrest against Mayor Grey and his son Francis.
The judge was murdered thereafter and the rest is history. And Palparan intimidated that “Hindi ako pinagbigyan.” Ako daw hindi pinagbigyan ni Judge Navidad kaya’t pinapatay ko si Judge Navidad. Nakakatawa naman. Sino ba ang may atraso? Sino ang may kaso? Hindi ako. Hindi ako. Sila ang may kaso. Sila ang hindi pinagbigyan.
Mayor Grey ran against me as Congressman of the 1st District of Samar during the May 2007 elections and lost by a margin of 28,000 votes. His election protest with the HRET went kaput and he is still licking his wounds up to this day.
Regarding the issue of bombings, it was my house that was rocked by a military explosive in the early morning of May 11, 2007, three days before the election, courtesy of General Palparan. My son, his wife and their two-year old daughter were sleeping in a room just five meters away from the explosion, but they were saved from death and serious injuries because of a concrete wall that shielded them from the explosion. It was providential that the second bomb did not hit us and my supporters who were sleeping in the nearby nipa houses were running helter skelter for safety after the first bomb exploded.
Colleagues, another bomb, the same type that exploded near my house, was also detonated in the evening of May 17, 2007 outside the Sangguniang Panglunsod office just a hundred meters away from the Handumanan building where there was an on-going canvassing of votes. At that time, our party was leading in all counts and it was to our interest to hasten the canvassing so our candidates can be immediately proclaimed.
Under these circumstances, General Palparan, will I be the bomber? Will I delay the proclamation by exploding a bomb near the canvassing area?
I am saddened, General Palparan, by your irresponsible and sweeping accusation that I had bought the prosecutors, the judges, the police and even the military. This is the height of schizophrenia, distrust and kapraningan. Imagine, you, a Member of Congress that carries the Bantay advocacy now making salakay in destroying the very institutions to where our people run for help. The champions of our democratic principles will rise from their graves to emaciate your imprudence and recklessness, General Palparan.
As to the circumstances of my using PDAF in the cementing of the road of the 20th IB, it was the City Mayor Mel Senen Sarmiento who accommodated the battalion when they were told to vacate their headquarters in Northern Samar.
The city arranged for the lease of a land for the use and even helped build the structures therein. I was merely requested to contribute in the concreting of the road leading to the military camp. And what is wrong with that? Are you not glad that your army camp at least received help from a Congressman? On the other hand, were you not informed that it is Governor Tan and former Congressman Tuazon who are using military personnel as their own personal bodyguards?
I am about to wind up. Please bear with me, that was a long litany made by General Palparan, and I also have to respond point by point.
Like you, General Palparan, I condemn the killings and the violence, and I am thankful to the Chief PNP Director General Versoza for the augmentation of the police force from the Regional Mobile Group. It was Mayor Sarmiento who requested for it, as the city has only 80 PNP officers and men to watch over 200,000 inhabitants spread all over 90,300 hectares of land area.
On the issue on the revelations made by one Joel Cañete, let me tell you, General Palparan, that the person you are referring to is a fugitive from justice, who is evading warrants of arrest for murder, frustrated murder and perjury. And you believed his perjured affidavit as Gospel truth? Joel Cañete, together with his brother-in-law, ambushed city counselor Jonas Montealto — here he is right now — severely wounding the city councilor and instantaneously killing the driver. The case against Cañete was reviewed by the Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez which affirmed the resolution of the city prosecutor finding probable cause against them. With this as antecedent, Councilor Montealto was clearly the victim, not the aggressor.
Let us now digress a little bit to touch on the favorite target of General Palparan, and that is yours truly, Representative Reynaldo S. Uy. He said he has nothing against me personally but he looks at me as if he wants to devour me. The preliminary investigation of all the cases filed against me before the 2007 elections using Cañete’s testimony, including that of Tamidles, were conducted by the prosecutors coming from the DOJ, not from Calbayog, but from the main office upon the request of my political opponents.
When these cases were dismissed by the investigating prosecutors, my detractors filed petitions for review with the Secretary of Justice. To their disappointment, chagrin and consternation, the dismissal of the cases in my favor were sustained principally because of my innocence.
During the May 2007 electoral exercise, my political foes preceded their campaign by vilifying my person via video footages of Joel Cañete purportedly narrating a litany of my sins against the people of Samar. The smear campaign that included the oft-repeated lies about my alleged involvement in drug-related activities, reached every nook and corner of my district but people were undaunted when they reaffirmed their faith in me by way of a landslide victory for me and the entire party slate.
Now to 20% mercenary. The primary reason of the speech of Representative Palparan was tied to the budget of Samar. The budget of the Province of Samar for 2009 of more than P800 million, which was submitted only last February 2009, much delayed submission, is still pending approval by the provincial board. Almost half of this budget will go for the purchase of medicines. For no valid reason or legal basis, the Bid and Awards Committee caused to be bidded a total amount of P105 million, mostly for purchase of medicines and supplies.
Vigilant members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan brought the issue to court for its intervention because there was no basis for the transaction. The court issued restraining orders which did not deter however Governor Tan from carrying out the prohibited transaction. The provincial treasurer, seated beside her, admitted that the vouchers were prepared and processed in one day on July 20, 2009 culminating in the encashment of the checks covering the entire amount of P105 million on that same day. To make matters worse, the general services officer of the provincial government intimated he did not witness any deliveries at all, and that is tantamount to saying that the province of Samar is again a victim of ghost deliveries.
It is unthinkable that the supplier, Zybermed, located in Pasig, Metro Manila, encashed its check worth more than 30 million in Landbank Catbalogan, Samar.
Why am I saying this? Because this P105 million disbursement made in only eight hours’ banking day is tied to the speech of Representative Palparan.
Mga kasama ko sa Konggreso, medyo mahaba pa po ito. Basta ang gusto ko lang pong iparating sa inyo na nagsinungaling siya, pinatay niya ang mga buhay, mayroon siyang axe to grind sa akin. At gusto ko rin pong liwanagin na parang nilagyan niya ng marka ang mga Congressmen na bumoto against the impeachment of the President because he said that I exchanged a deal with the President together with Congressman Figueroa in voting against the impeachment. That is not true because his insinuation is that all of these Congressmen are transactional Congressmen.
I am about to wind up. I will just read a few of my closing statements. Ngayon na ako ay sumagot sa kaniyang privilege speech, ako ay nangangamba na baka ako at ang aking pamilya ay saktan, patayin, ambusin o bombahin muli ang aming bahay sa utos ng aming mga kalaban. Nangyari na sa akin ito noong 2007 at hindi imposibleng mangyaring muli dahil na rin sa pag-uutos ng aking mga kalaban.
Lest everyone forgets, I am a medical doctor, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Health in the Committee on Appropriations. I put my PDAF of millions of pesos to many hospitals: NKTI, Heart Center, Children Center, Lung Center and all the other big centers in Metro Manila and in my region, to save impoverished patients from sure death, and lest Gen. Palparan forgets, the duty of the doctor is to heal and not to kill. Please lang, huwag mo na ulit akong bombahin. Huwag mo na ulit bombahin ang bahay ko.
Lastly, when I was in my elementary grades, I was taught about Pepe and Pilar and their dog, Bantay. I would like to sing an old song: “How much is Bantay in the window?” Thank you.