2006 ‘another murderous year’ with 111 high-profile killings in the Philippines
By Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star 12/21/2006
Manila-- The year, 2006 that is about to end is "another murderous year" in the country "with at least 111 high-profile killings recorded to date," opposition Rep. Roilo Golez of Parañaque said yesterday.
Golez, former national security adviser of President Arroyo, said the killings represent "a near total breakdown of peace and order in the country."
His compilation of high-profile assassinations is topped by the ambush last Saturday of Abra Rep. Luis Bersamin Jr. and his police bodyguard, who were gunned down at the Mt. Carmel Church compound in New Manila, Quezon City.
"The list of murder victims includes a number of provincial, city, town and barangay officials, national government officials, members of media, and leaders of militant groups like Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis and Partidong Manggagawa," Golez said.
Sixty-five of those in his list, or nearly 60 percent of those killed, are names of leaders of these militant groups, which have accused the administration and the military of systematically decimating their ranks. Administration and Armed Forces officials have denied the accusation.
The most recent militant victim is Gil Gojol, a human rights lawyer for Bayan Muna and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. Armed men shot him dead after he attended a court hearing in Gubat, Sorsogon City on Dec. 12.
The day before, unidentified men felled Crisanto Frivaldo, a Bayan Muna member, with bullets in his home in Sorsogon City.
The most prominent leftist leader in Golez’s compilation is Sotero Llamas, a former commander of the New People’s Army and consultant of the National Democratic Front in the stalled peace negotiations with the government.
He was killed by three gunmen in his home province of Albay on May 29. Llamas ran for governor in his province in the May 2004 elections under the ticket of opposition presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Besides Bersamin, the prominent murder victims this month included Assistant Solicitor General Benedict Ballacillo, gunned down with his young son in Parañaque on Dec. 6; Regional Trial Court Judge Sahara Silongan, shot dead in downtown Cotabato City on Dec. 2; and Ponciano Grande, a radio broadcaster and local newspaper columnist, felled by assassins’ bullets in his farm in Barangay Sta. Arcadia, Cabanatuan City, on Dec. 7.
Grande is one of 10 dead media practitioners in the provinces in Golez’s compilation of high-profile killings.
Local officials who were assassinated or ambushed this year include Mayors Delfinito Albano of Ilagan, Isabela; Luis Biel III of Isabela City; Marc Ysrael Bernos of La Paz, Abra; Nathaniel Onia of Allacapan, Cagayan; and George Yabes of Maitum, Sarangani; and Abra provincial board member James Bersamin, a relative of Rep. Bersamin. Security for congressmen
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has been providing police security to at least 67 members of Congress who have legitimate threat on their lives.
Senior Superintendent Romeo Hilomen, chief of the PNP-Police Security and Protection Office, said the threats on the 60 congressmen and seven senators have been validated by the PNP Intelligence Group and other government intelligence offices.
"As of today, we are securing 60 congressmen, and the threats against them were validated by the PNP IG," Hilomen said during a briefing yesterday.
He said there were three levels of threats — the first by sending threats through letters, phone calls and text messages while the second was strafing the house or office of the subject. The third was an attack similar to that of the case of Pasig City Rep. Robert "Dodot" Jaworski, who escaped death after the bomb planted in his Innova car exploded.
Hilomen identified five of the seven senators as Senate President Manny Villar, Miriam Santiago, Jamby Madrigal, Panfilo Lacson, and Loi Ejercito, wife of jailed President Joseph Estrada. — With Cecille Suerte Felipe