Monday, June 26, 2006

INVESTIGATION UPDATE: No. 1

[The following is written by a trusted reporter in the field. The name is withheld for security reasons.]

I’ve been watching the police investigation into the murder of journalists George and Maricel Vigo. It’s been a week since they’ve been killed and here are some interesting developments in the case . . . if you can call them developments:

A. Two days after George and Maricel were killed, the chief of police of Central Mindanao announced that they were murdered by the New People’s Army (NPA), the communist rebel group here. The police’s version of the story is that George was a communist who began sharing information with the military, and was thus killed by an NPA hitman.

B. This NPA hitman, according to the police, is Dionisio Madanggit. There are several arrest warrants out for Madanggit because he’s been linked to previous murders. Strangely, just two days after they were killed, the police identified him as the gunman. The police have brought forward no witnesses to support this claim, but records I’ve obtained today indicate that Madanggit has actually been working as a hitman for the military for some time. An investigation by a human rights groups has tagged Madanggit as a hired gun in the murder of several farm worker organizers here in Cotabato this year.

C. The NPA has come up with an official statement saying that Madanggit is not an NPA member and is in fact working for the military.

D. A witness I interviewed saw the killings from a distance of 7 to 10 meters. (This double murder was carried out in a busy street in broad daylight.) He says four men on two motorcycles drove up to George and Maricel, who were also riding tandem on a motorcycle. Without stopping, a gunman called out George’s name, then fired several rounds into him and Maricel. The assailants had their faces covered with baseball caps and handkerchiefs and were therefore not recognisable to this witness.

E. This witness has been visited a few times by police, who want him to sign an affadavit saying that the police’s suspect, Dionisio Madanggit, is indeed the killer. But the witness refuses because he says he could not see the faces of the gunmen. Today, June 26, the police took Maricel’s mother to the police station, saying they wanted to get some information from her. She went alone, as she knew some of the officers. The police said they just wanted to make a document saying that she is indeed the mother of Maricel, that she lived at such-and-such address, and that they needed just a little more personal information.

Maricel’s mother doesn’t read or speak English, and the police had her sign doucments that were in English. What the police failed to tell her was that she was in fact signing a criminal suit against Dionisio Madanggit, who the police have concluded to be the killer. So, in seven days, the police can now say they can close the investigation!

So, on paper, Maricel’s mother has now filed a case against Madanggit, the police’s own supsect, who they dubiously pulled out of a hat two days after the killings. The legal document that Maricel’s mother signed was in English, and no mention was made that she was in fact giving the final signature so that the case against Madanggit could go ahead.

G. From start to finish, there seems to be an organized whitewash of the killings. By focusing on the supsect Madanggit, the police can ignore other possible masterminds of this brutal killings.

H. A number of prominent attorneys here who have filed cases against the younger brothers of Emmanuel Piñol, a powerful politician here in North Cotabato, have been receiving death threats. They are being accused of being communists. A week before he died, George related to a few close friends that the military had given him death threats, and that he was afraid. But he took no other precautions, because he felt he had done no harm.

George and Maricel’s murder happened only two days after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced a major military campaign to crush the communist insurgency. People here believe that by targeting prominent journalists and community workers like the Vigos, they can send a chilling message to the rest of the people doing similar work.

Watch this space for more updates. Meanwhile, I welcome all comments and suggestions.

4 Comments:

Blogger amor said...

kaisa mo nyo ako sa mithiing pagkamit ng tunay na kapayapaan patuloy nating paigtingin ang ating pakikibaka upang makamit ito. Ang pagkawala nyo kaibigan ay gagawin nating isang ilaw na siyang magiging giya at magiging liwanag sa daang patuloy na nagigigng madilim!!!

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To George and Macel:

How can we ever forget you? You sowed the seeds of justice in our hearts… we saw your fight in the streets. We witnessed how you struggled for truth and freedom.
But they took away your lives, so mercilessly and ruthlessly, thinking that they had ‘crumpled’ and ‘finished’ the seeds that you have sown. That was their greatest mistake. Your deaths could be a loss to most of your loved ones, but for us who had been in this struggle for so long a time, your deaths serve as our ‘strength’ when we feel weak; a lamp when we can’t see the light; and a ‘sword’ to protect us when we’re attacked by ‘outside forces’ out to destroy us.
These forces might have all the machineries – the killing squad and the support of the ‘powers-that be’ – to silence us, but history dictates – as evidenced by the experiences of the many states who had been under a dictatorial rule -- that the ‘killing of the people working for truth and justice’ will not ‘kill’ the ideals. They will only strengthen the fight.
George and Macel, don’t worry. There are other people that you have touched by your examples who are willing to continue the fight.
Padayon. Dugang kadasig.

LILAC

1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great work! I wish that relevant investigative reports like this would come out in the mainstream media whose reports are mainly based on police statements without any cross-checking. Nabasa ko pa sa isang international paper yung report na pinning their deaths on the NPA. Nakakalinlang sa publiko, na unfair at delikado lalo na sa panahon ngayon. Saludo ako sa iyong paghahanap sa katotohanan!

- Ilang-Ilang Quijano, Pinoy Weekly

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Rice & Rights said...

This comment is coming from Rice & Rights in the Netherlands.
At first we will express our deep regret at the dead of George and Maricel.
Now I introduce ourselves.

July 1 R&R was launched and also our web site.

Our Goals
To put up / establish a broad formation that includes overseas Filipinos, their families and friends, the host people and other migrant communities that will lead and project the campaign in the Netherlands in defense of human rights and civil liberties (of all Filipinos) in the Philippines and outside of the country.
To educate and inform the Filipino community, the Dutch people and other migrant communities in the Netherlands regarding the worsening political and economic crisis in the Philippines.
To raise awareness on the situation of overseas Filipinos and gather support for their struggle for equal rights and against racism and xenophobia in the Netherlands.
To gather the broadest possible support for the Filipino people’s aspiration to stop political repression and guarantee fundamental rights and freedoms in the Philippines.
To reach out to Dutch media (e.g. TV, radio, print) to bring attention to the situation in the Philippines and create more awareness among the Dutch people and policy-makers in the Netherlands.

The story written by Fr. Geremia reached us. How sad though, it gives a clear illustration of the situation in the Philippines. We translated it into Dutch to let it spread more easily among our people. Already yesterday we got a first comment on it:
“Wat een geweldige mensen!
Hun lichamen zijn gedood, maar hun spirit blijft bestaan...
Moge optimisme, positieve krachten en idealen uiteindelijk overwinnen in deze wereld.
Menarik”
The translation is:
What marvelous people!
Their bodies are dead, but their spirits will live on…
May optimism, the positive powers and ideals this world overcome in the end.
Menarik

This morning I found your blog with the picture of George and Maricel and their five children. I did put it on the web page. Hopefully you agree.
The addresses of our sites:
Dutch: http://web.mac.com/rice.rights
English: pinas.net
E-mail: rice.rights@mac.com
Sincerely,
Jan Beentjes

12:08 AM  

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