POSTSCRIPT / July 9, 2009 / Thusday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Arrest bombers instead of just monitoring them

BOMBING SPATE: The military needs a more credible script in explaining the spate of bombings in the South that have claimed about a dozen lives and alarmed both the natives and foreigners.

Otherwise, the armed forces will be criticized for incompetence or, worse, connivance with groups suspected of laying the basis for an emergency situation before May 2010.

It says here, for instance, that al Qaeda-linked terrorists based in Mindanao have been sighted in the national capital. Instead of just watching them or waiting for them to plant a bomb, why did not the authorities arrest the terrorists on sight?

Reports quoting the military also said that those who planted the bombs in several targets in the South were just carrying out “tests” bombings.

Are “test” bombings” less reprehensible? We are wont to ask also if the neophyte bombers are trainees of terrorist groups or of the military on test missions.

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AID SUSPENDED: Not only the natives have been scared by the terror bombings that are expected to escalate as the State of the Nation Address of President Gloria Arroyo on July 27 draws nearer.

United Nations agencies have suspended all aid missions in Miindanao where a series of bombings left about a dozen dead and 100 injured.

The agencies’ staff movements have been restricted. This has raised the probability that food assistance to some 340,000 people displaced by lawlessness and violence will be delayed or even halted until order is restored.

If it is any consolation, a spokesman of the UN’s World Food Program gave assurance that the agency was committed to helping “war refugees” in the South over the long term.

We should be concerned that Filipinos displaced by the fighting between government forces and an unholy alliance of secessionists and bandits in Muslim Mindanao are regarded as “war refugees.”

Without our national officials noticing it, or caring about, it, the generations-old fighting (also represented as a war of liberation) has taken on an international complexion. The national leadership actually walked into this situation with eyes wide open.

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STUDE ATTACKED: Last Friday night, four bonnet-wearing men armed with lead pipes attacked Ateneo law student Don Albert Pagcog while he was about to enter his rented house in Makati.

Witnesses said the assailants were waiting for Pangcog in their vehicle for more than an hour before they pounced on him, an indication that they must have planned the assault.

Initial police investigation disclosed that Pangcog, 29, had just alighted from his vehicle at 6077 Palma St., Poblacion, Makati. As he was opening his gate, the assailants approached and struck him with lead pipes. Fighting back, Pangcog was able to take off the bonnets of his attackers.

The victim identified his attackers as fellow law students Mark Bryan Magno, his brother Mark Lester, both residents of Filinvest-1, Quezon City, and Joya Condominium, Rockwell Center; Carlos Lim, from Pilar Village, Las Piñas, and Palmeras Building, Palma St., Poblacion, Makati; and Randy Garcia Echaus of 45 Valle Verde Mansion, Pasig City.

Mark Lester and Lim are reportedly law students at the Lyceum of the Philippines, while Mark Bryan and Echaus are students at the Ateneo Law School.

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MURDER RAPS: The police report filed by PO3 Dexter Clarence F. Fongkot showed that during the attack, Mark Bryan Magno pulled out a gun and shot Pangcog, hitting him in the right thigh.

After the attack, the suspects boarded a RAV 4 vehicle and fled. The victim was rushed by his board mate to the Makati Medical Center.

Had the attack been successful — meaning Pagcong being killed without the suspects being identified — the case could have become just another of those seemingly senseless killings perpetrated around us.

Pagcong is lucky he suffered only lacerations in the head (as a result of the beatings) and survived the gunshot wound.

Only Mark Bryan Magno has been arrested. He was charged with frustrated murder before the Makati City Prosecutors Office together with his brother and two companions who are being hunted.

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DOWNGRADING: There are reported attempts to muddle the case by floating in the media that the “treacherous” attack was part of a fraternity “war” between two rival organizations at the Ateneo. Pangcog is a member of the Aquila Legis fraternity while the four are members of Utopia.

The term “frat war” is sometimes used by lawyers to downgrade a violent incident as a lesser offense — as if violence is or can be more tolerable when it erupts between two warring campus organizations or fraternities.

A downgrading could mean the murder complaint being pursued only as a case of an attempted or frustrated homicide.

But Makati police investigators said the attack was premeditated. Among the evidence gathered at the crime scene were two black bonnets, two improvised batons, a lead pipe, a slug of possibly.40 caliber and an empty shell of the same caliber.

The family of the victim is disturbed by reports that the Ateneo’s associate dean of student affairs was seen visiting at the police office not the victim but the suspects. The family said this smacks of partisanship and deplored it as an unchristian act.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 9, 2009)

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