My renewed interest in the governance of my beloved province of Antique is filled with surprises, both pleasant and shocking. One of the pleasant surprises was meeting one brave and courageous Antiqueno, in the person of Eric Otayde, at the Provincial Capitol in the capital town of San Jose, where I initially worked for five years prior to deployment to Kuwait in November 1987. The shocking surprise is finding out, very recently, that my most hated politician, Arturo Pacificador, is now sitting as one of the members of Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of the Provincial Government of Antique! He got elected to that position, of course, and I say that something is really wrong in my province as far as politics is concerned.
Why? Let me tell you by sharing an old Editorial I wrote for Pinoy News, a weekly two-page supplement of Kuwait Times. It got published March 19, 1995, nearly 19 years ago. The full text is as follows:
The news, carried recently on the front pages of some of the few Manila dailies reaching Kuwait, on a Marcos’ crony’s surrender to police authorities, has brought ‘bad’ old memories back to mind. (It brought me twelve years back to my home province of Antique until I left for Kuwait in 1987).
After nine years of hiding, making it appear that he had left for Canada when all the while he was simply island-hopping in the Philippines, ex-Batasan Assemblyman Arturo Pacificador, lone representative of the province of Antique, and considered one of the then President Marcos’ most notorious cronies, has finally come out in the open and surrendered last March 8 to Director General Recaredo Sarmiento II of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Turing,” as he is known to us Antiquenos, is the prime suspect in the murder of Antique Governor Evelio Javier in 1986 and the deaths of a number of aides of then Gov. Enrique Zaldivar in 1984. He is facing a string of criminal charges ranging from attempted murder to murder filed before the Regional Trial Court in Antique. He is also facing a charge on violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act before the Sandiganbayan.
Remembering a villain, as is done now, in a far different light as one would remember a person of good standing, is one opportunity I would not miss.
Being a direct witness to his unscrupulous negotiations and dealings in Antique, unfortunately on the Antiquenos’ side, being their lone representative to the then Batasang Pambansa (today’s equivalent to the Philippine Congress), this is one good chance I wouldn’t let pass me by.
In the over five years I worked, first as a reporter for the only provincial government newspaper of Antique, and later on as head of the Press and Media Office under the then Gov. Zaldivar, I was a witness to the two major crimes of which “Turing” is accused of. First, was the ambush and killing of five of Gov. Zaldivar’s aides at the infamous Pangpang bridge on the eve of the Batasan election, of which Antique’s beloved hero Evelio Javier was then actively contesting Pacificador’s seat on the govt legislators’ body.
(Pacificador won the election then through massive fraud and deceit but was later on stripped off his position when the COMELEC decided on Evelio’s side two years after that bloody election. Ironically, Evelio was already dead then when he was finally and rightfully proclaimed elected assemblyman for Antique.)
The second major crime, and the worst Pacificador is accused of, is the merciless killing, in broad daylight, of Evelio Javier, in front of the Provincial Capitol of Antique, while counting of ballots was going on for the historic Presidential snap election in 1986. Barely 15 minutes before Evelio was gunned down, I was interviewing him about a US senator’s arrival in Antique (as observer of the just-concluded election). His promise (of giving me a copy of a snapshot taken with him and Senator Edward Kennedy, after the film is developed) never materialized as he was dead even before he had chance to see the photos, himself.
The reason Pacificador gave of not showing up during the countless summons of Antique’s RTC to face trial for the crimes he is accused of, was his lack of trust for the then newly-proclaimed and elected President Corazon Aquino. He said, according to the papers, that the govt during that period was full of hatred. He also claimed that the press tried and convicted him of the murder.
What prompted him to finally come out in the open, as claimed, is his strong belief in President Ramos’ present administration. He said that he believes the govt of President Ramos will listen to his explanations and give him a fair trial.
Knowing him, as he is known to all the avid supporters of Evelio Javier and his cause, I doubt if he was sincere when he stated those words. The only thing true about his earlier statement was that the people then were full of hatred. Indeed, if he had shown himself in Antique after that brutal killing of Evelio Javier, he could have been eaten alive by the Antiquenos. Not that his crimes are now forgotten. Antique will never rest until justice is given to its fallen hero, looked up then by the people as the only person who could bring the province of Antique out of years of neglect and poverty.
Antique lost a hero but in the end, the Phillipines gained its freedom through the historic 1986 EDSA Revolution or People’s Power which toppled down the Marcos dictatorship.
I still recall what the then President Cory Aquino said of the death of Evelio Javier. She said that both her husband Ninoy and Evelio died a very meaningful death. Ninoy’s death triggered the presidential snap election while Evelio’s death triggered the EDSA Revolution.
Pacificador, for all his crimes committed, indeed, needs to be heard and tried. The sooner, the better!
NOW, I wonder, having no knowledge of what happened after this story got published in March 19, 1995, how did Turing get away from all his crimes committed? Hmmm. . . I think there will be a Part 2 of this story. . .