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February 26 2012 1 26 /02 /February /2012 15:01

                                            The Waterlogged Files 07


                                                         “A Coverup Most Foul”


City Lights

 By Antonio Ma. Nieva


Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 6, 1992 Twenty-eight days to the eight year of his death by an assassin’s gun, Cesar Cortes Climaco’s ghost haunts the streets of Zamboanga City, restless, troubled by the truth that is denied him to this day in that other bourne.

It is the truth of rank injustice finally redressed, an eye for an eye, if no at least the consuelo of knowing who his murderers were, and who the shadow that gave the go-signal that sent a .45-caliber bullet crashing into his brain, and most important, why.              

Military intelligence would know and should be made to tell, if somebody can pry them loose from their amnesia. All of Zamboanga knows but not, it seems, the law. It has an even shorter memory and would rather forget as it has countless other depredations committed by “duly constituted authority.’

Climaco is no more than a lingering private grief today, an oft-jammed, noisy thoroughfare renamed from Guardia National to honor a macho mayor as madcap noisy and endeared to all for being ever the guachinango champion to the underdog while he breathed. For the seekers of justice, Climaco is a heinous murder unsolved, a canker of disturbing questions that government is hesitant to give an ear to, then and now.

 He never tired of breathing down on the military for their abuses. He needled them constantly. He broke up their attempt to control the arrastre service, the barter trade. Mainly, he stood up to Marcos.

Gunned down in downtown Zamboanga in broad daylight of Nov. 14, Climaco was made to look like the victim of a vendetta by military investigators who pointed an accusing finger at Pat. Rizal Ali and four others.

It was all too pat. Alih’s elder brother, police Lt. Abdurasal, was killed by airborne troops in a gun-fight that erupted virtually at the doorsteps of the  Climaco home in Sta. Maria while the mayor himself was killed near the Alihs’ compound on Gov. Alejo Alvarez Avenue, toward which – so the military said ¾ the gunman was seen escaping.

Nobody believed it, but there was justification enough for the military to start a firefight with Alih and his men, who had to answer for four more dead, three soldiers and a nurse, after the smoke lifted.

Four years later, the court threw out the case against Alih, et al. Lack of evidence, Judge Tibing Asali ruled, allowing Alih to pass into national notoriety soon afterward with the “Battle of Cawa-Cawa.”

If Alih did not kill Climaco, who did? Common knowledge told a military conspiracy to silence Climaco with extreme prejudice, the mayor being punyal in their side, and the Tal Fulanos looked at U-2 and saw Col. Rolando de Guzman, its head and Climaco’s favorite scatologic [sic] target. He was yanked out of Zamboanga and reassigned to Camp Aguinaldo immediately after the Climaco assassination. De Guzman, a Philippine  Military Academy graduate, is two years dead and buried (with full military honors) slain only July 10, 1992, by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation in a cocaine buy-bust operation in Manila.

Before he showed up in Zamboanga in 1983 as intelligence chief of the Southern Command, De Guzman, then a major, was linked as a master-mind of the kidnapping of Debora Simon on March 26, 1982, for which a Cotabato businessman, Pablo Mangulabnan, and four others were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment

He was never arraigned, according to the Cotabato newspaper Mindanao Cross, for the simple reason that his military superiors had declared him awol in court.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Divinagracia attested to it in a letter to Judge Alejandro R. Leopando of Regional Trial Court Branch 13 saying that De Guzman had been “reverted to inactive status effective Dec. 1, 1983,” and had “left the country under an assumed name.”

Two military lawyers --- Colonels Artemio Gumtang and Cesar Nicolas Villanea --- told the court just so when they appeared during arraignment to explain De Guzman’s absence.

All this time, De Guzman was in Zamboanga!

How could officers and gentlemen perjure themselves so callously? How was it possible that then Southcom chief Delfin Castro did not know about it? Is it any wonder that Climaco is turning over in his grave?

It is a cover-up most foul. End


Note: The late Columnist Tony Ma. Nieva, as a young student at the Ateneo de Zamboanga, lived on the same street, Alejo Avarez Ave.,  where the assassinated mayor was felled with a .45 caliber gun. The very spot where the late Mayor Climaco fell, now marked with a flat bronze plate, a commemorative shrine, was about a kilometer away from his old house.¾Enriquez   


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February 26 2012 1 26 /02 /February /2012 14:53


                                                        The Waterlogged Files 06


                                                               Murder in Broad Dayligh


Time:  November 26, 1984 --So commonplace is violence in the southern Mindanao seaport of Zamboanga City that Mayor Cesar Climaco, 68, tallied the killings on a billboard outside the municipal hall. The mayor, a leading critic of the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, last week became such a statistichiself as he was shot I broad dayight in the center of town. The assassin escaped. Inevitably, some Filipino blamed the killing on the Marcos regime. During the past two months three opposition figures in the south have been murdered, and many suspect that right-wing military elements were involved.

Climaco had been a constant critic of the government’s human rights abuses. When the President proclaimed martial law in 1972 , he vowed not to cut his hair until “pace and democracy are restored,” and his long white locks became his trademark. Marcos condemned the murder and ordered an investigation by the acting armed fores Chief of Staff Lieut. General Fidel Ramos. That did not appease the opposition. Said former Senator Salvador Laurel. “One by on out lfrd sr nrinhkillf ot eliminated.”   End

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February 21 2012 3 21 /02 /February /2012 05:08

Note: You may not realize it, but you can’t read this during martial law¾’72-’86. I got to read this myself only today as I typed it in my PC, having found it damp and muddy after Typhoon Sendong. Caught reading it then, I mean, during the Marcos dictatorship would send you finishing it in a military stockade and languishing in it for who knows until forever because they had thrown away the key.



The Waterlogged Files #04




Father of Fairview Residents Assassinated


“Cesar C. Climaco Killed in the Philippines”

By Patty Cooper

Of the Journal Staff


BELLEVILLE¾November 13 started like that of any other evening with Cesar F. and Sandra Climaco of Belleville readying their six children for bed. Then the phone rang and their world fell apart.

The 9:30 p.m. call reported that Mr. Climaco’s father, Cesar C. Climacohad been assassinated while fighting a fire in the small town of Zamboanga in the Philippines. He was killed by a .45-calibre handgun.

But from the beginning, the Climaco’s [sic] had their doubt’s [sic] about a citizen being responsible for the murder. These doubts were verified later in the week with another call from a friend in New York.

Before the senior Climaco’s death a hearing had been scheduled to investigate allegations by Cesar C. Climaco of election fraud. The call said the hearing has now been cancelled because the only witness was dead.

That’s why he was killed, said Sandra. The United States supports the government of President Ferdinand Marcos because of the free elections. If election fraud could have been proved, the American government would have been upset, she said.

Sandra charged, “while they (the U.S. government) look the other way to murder, torture and civil rights violations, election fraud might reduce the financial and military aid.”

The election fraud stems from an incident several years ago when the senior Climaco physically laid on some ballots that were switched. He supposedly had evidence that would have identified the perpetrators as Marcos supporters.

As soon as the death of the senior Climaco was reported, Cesar and Sandra began making plans to go to the Philippines for the funeral. Shortly after a call told them to stay home. “We were told it’s too dangerous,” said Sandra.

The senior Climaco has been involved with the opposition since martial law was declared in 1971. As a constant reminder, he refused to have his hair cut until civil rights were restored in the Philippines. 

Since that time, he has been an outspoken opponent of Marcos, said Sandra. “Every time there was a death or torture, he would speak out and write Marcos telling him something was wrong.

“Daddy was for a peaceful transition. He would tell what the people wanted.”

If fate had not been stepped in and stopped the senior Climaco, he might have been given the chance to speak for he people.

He had been recently elected to the Parliament in May, an equivalent of the U.S.  Senate. Cesar C. Climaco was also the mayor of the small town of Zamboanga.

The senior Climaco was a long time friend of Benigno ‘‘Nino” [Ninoy] Aquino, who was kidnapped and killed a year ago. Both were opposition leaders, said Sandra.

“He was the ideal Christian. If he had one coat he would give it up... if he had enough, he would give, even if he didn’t have enough, he would give,” she said.

“Daddy knew he could be killed, but he said he would give his life for his country … he believed in law and order.”

Cesar C. Climaco is survived by his wife Julpa, an American citizen who lives in the Philippines: six children, Dr. Cesar F. of Belleville, Julio of Fairview Heights, Dr. Augusto of Belleville, Delora of Belleville, Erwin of Fairview Heights, Lalla of Oregon; and 14 grandchildren.

In his memory a mass was said Monday evening at St Peter’s Catholic Church in Belleville.                                                                                                            End


                                                           “TheLegend of Pulong Batu’’-Illus. Zabala   

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  • : Antonio Enriquez's name
  • : Work of folktales, historical pieces, fiction and nonfiction: stories and novels set mostly in Zamboanga Peninsula and Maguindanao. Chabacano pieces.
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