Mamasapano: The Messy Search for Truth

But should P-Noy resign
and give way to Binay?

What happened in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25, 2015 that led to the deaths of 44 elite police commandos?

Personally, I have lots of questions. I mentioned these in my last column in Sun.Star Cebu titled “Seek the Truth.” Among others, I asked: “…who gave the go-signal and why was suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima on top of the failed operation.”

As more information are published each day, the questions in my mind further increases.

Too many probes

One question I like to highlight now is why the number of inquiries into the tragedy? The Philippine Daily Inquirer listed eight investigations. And the editor put the story’s heading this way: “To many probes (8) may spoil the truth.”

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) immediately conducted separate investigations. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) also ordered its own probe.

However, Malacañang prefers investigations by regular agencies. Thus, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered a separate probe. As this developed, Human Rights Commission (CHR) chairperson Etta Rosales announced a separate fact-finding initiative. Both the House and Senate public order committees likewise went into the motions of opening their own respective inquiries.

The International Monitoring Team (IMT), composed of foreign military officials that monitors the implemention of ceasefires between the government and the MILF, is also gathering information on what happened.

Revelations by the PNP Director Getulio Napeñas, the suspended commander of the Special Action Force (SAF), that President Aquino had knowledge of the operation prompted calls for an independent investigation.

Map of Maguindanao showing the location of Mam...

Map of Maguindanao showing the location of Mamasapano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


As of this writing, or some 10 days after the tragic Mamasapano encounter, we can now see that the PNP and the AFP are blaming each other. The PNP is saying that the army units nearby failed to reinforce the  SAF. However, the AFP said some 300 SAF elements were merely on standby four kilometers away from the firefight.

The law enforcement and defense arms of the government at loggerheads shows weakness at the top. What can one expect from a commander-in-chief who prefers a car company event than the arrival of the fallen 44? As the nation grieved watching the bodies of the fallen 44 arrive in Manila, the hashtag #NasaanAngPangulo became trending in Twitter.


The popular outrage has prompted various quarters to call for the resignation of President Aquino. One group pushing for the resignation is the National Transformation Council (NTC), which has earned the support of some bishops.

The resignation call, however, is also being met by this fear of Vice President Jojo Binay — who is busy evading the Senate probe into alleged corruption — emerging as president.

What are your thoughts, guys?

Pursuing peace

peaceThe Aquino administration crowed about its pursuit of peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). But is ending the war with our Moro brothers enough to achieve peace? How about the war being waged by the National Democratic Front (NDF) along with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA)?

With a much economically and militarily stronger China going bolder in bullying us, the time has come for President Noynoy Aquino to push harder for internal peace on all fronts so we will be stronger in facing this growing Chinese threat.

The signing of the peace agreement with the MILF leadership last March was a big step for President Aquino. However, the arrest of the Tiamzons and how top officials justified this move led us to question the administration’s sincerity in the peace advocacy.

Top government officials echoed the position that Benito and Wilma Tiamzon are not peace consultants contrary to what the defense lawyers are saying.

Here’s what Alex Padilla, head of the government peace panel, said:


Padilla went further.


Let us add the statement of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima:

De Lima

In my search for the other side, I came across and his post titled: “Give peace a chance.” In this post, he published the following:



Yup, the other side of the story goes back to the time of President Fidel V. Ramos. Here’s a copy of …


Executive Order 276, by President Ramos, implementing JASIG

With these attachments, Tonyo Cruz pushes giving peace a chance, something that should resonate in President Noynoy Aquino and his advisers who are known as peace advocates for decades.

At this point, I just want to point out that the different sides have opposing views on how to achieve peace with the insurgency.

For the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), peace means military victory in crushing the insurgents.



However, here’s what communist leaders Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni are saying:

Sison and Jalandoni

The way I see it, the Aquino administration cannot go on pursuing peace with the Moro rebels but showing the world that it won’t honor agreements made by previous administrations. President Aquino is practically telling future presidents that they could ignore the peace documents he has signed now with the MILF.

The JASIG documents presented above show the rebels are actually telling the truth while de Lima and Padilla are, at the very least, misinformed. Statements from the AFP brass also convey the message that their version of peace is way off the kind of peace supposedly being pushed by peace advocates and negotiators.

What do you think?


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Find best PH climbing wall atop Cebu skyscraper

The breath-taking view of Cebu City's South Road Properties (SRP) from the Club Ultima tower.

The breath-taking view of Cebu City’s South Road Properties (SRP) from the Club Ultima tower.


Cebu City visitors won’t miss the tall Club Ultima building and Towers 1 of Crown Regency Hotels  towering above the uptown skyline. Nearer the skyscrapers at the Fuente Osmeña circle, one further sees the zipline cables connecting the top floors.

That'sAlya, Potpot, Andre, Nicole, and JL.

That’sAlya, Potpot, Andre, Nicole, and JL.

But up at the 39th floor we — the kids with close friends and yours truly — went to again experience what is billed as the world’s only rock climbing wall atop a skyscraper.

The zipline and climbing wall are two of the exciting features of the Sky Experience Adventure. There’s the Edge Coaster, Sky Walk, Sky Lift, Tower Zip, Paramount Wall, Cliff Hanger and Vertex. Club Ultima chairman and CEO Richard L. King described this as a “must experience.”

“Not only do you get to do this on top of the city’s tallest building. You also get to challenge yourself to scale heights you never imagined,” Mr. King wrote in his message in the publication “Ultima Matters.”

While it is usually windy at the top floors, I noted early that morning, the weather bulletin placed Cebu under signal number 1 because of typhoon Caloy. Hmmm. Scary.

It was also past 6 pm when we arrived. The panoramic evening view of the city was breath-taking. And the group could enjoy climbing up to 1 am, that’s if you  have the energy for several climbs up a rather challenging wall.

Haha. No, I did not climb. I am only the stage father or yaya or photographer accompanying Alya Simone, Natasha Nicole, Andre Sandino, Potpot, and JL. Somehow, Alya convinced them to climb what she described as the best climbing wall in the Philippines.

alya1 alya2

Former child rock-climbing champ of Cebu Alya Simone Mongaya conquering the world's only rock climbing wall on top of a skyscraper.

Former child rock-climbing champ of Cebu Alya Simone Mongaya conquering the world’s only rock climbing wall on top of a skyscraper.

The now 21-year-old Alya should know. She began climbing at six years old and participated at that young age in a national competition at the Glorietta in Makati City. After winning several competitions, she received a “Garbo sa Sugbo” award from then Gov. Gwen Garcia. When she stopped joining competitions when she reached high school, she has already tried going up different rock climbing walls in the country.

That Saturday was not the first the kids tried the wall and definitely not the last. Thanks to my good friends Guido Tabañag and Mr. Richard King.

And I thought, why not a rock climbing competition atop a skyscraper, guys?

Newbies Natasha Nicole and JL Escatron.

Newbies Natasha Nicole and JL Escatron.


That’s Bordi in action.


Go JL, go!


Natasha Nicole, the beginner.


How’s the climb, Pot?

Related story

First rock climbing experience on top of a building


Football brawl: the other sides




I write this in the interest of airing other sides of the controversial football brawl during the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu -Alcoy Football Club game last March 16, 2014. I bet many already heard the Alcoy side many times, even argued in their favor. But these other sides also need to see the light of day, in the interest of balance and fairness.

Yes, I am the eldest brother of the man in grey — Enrico Mongaya — who entered the scene and has been flogged in social media for a week now.  Yes, this blog post is biased in favor of the other sides.

And yes, I warn you that these other sides may not be right or not entirely right. The truth after all has several sides. But for those who have not yet read but are interested in knowing the other sides, this post is for you.

Why write this only now? Because I received a copy of the statement of the parents of the Ateneo players only hours ago. In my Facebook page and in the Facebook group “Maghisgot Kitag Politika, Bay,” I only talked about the other sides on Thursday, after I actually heard the account of one of the Ateneo de Cebu boys, Jose Mari Kwan.

There are several points of course but I want to present the statement of the parents first:




While writing this post, I was told that only Cebu Daily News published the letter today.

After the story on Little Azkal Kintaro Miyagi in, the Manila Standard picked up Miyagi’s story and this was published on Thursday. Check out this link:

The Sun.Star Cebu story on Miyagi was published on Friday or five days after the incident:

Then, allow me to present the account of little JM Kwan about his experience. Because no reporter asked Kwan about his side, he posted this in his Facebook account. I had shared this online since Thursday. It was published only in Superbalita on Saturday. Below is a screenshot of his Facebook timeline:

JM kwan

Amid all the stories that came out last week, one columnist reached out and wrote about Enrico Mongaya’s side. Here’s a link to Michelle So’s column:

Next, let us revisit the injuries of the 5’7″ tall goalie Rodenel Binolirao Jr. He was shown bloodied in a photo taken on Sunday March 16, 2014 that came out several times in Sun.Star and posted several times online in various social media channels.

Here is the description of the injury by his uncle, Sun.Star sports writer Rommel Manlosa in our PM exchanges last Monday when I offered myself as bridge and I still have yet to hear the other sides.

I have no quarrel with Rommel. I consider him a friend. I understand he is after the welfare of his nephew. We are dragged into this partly because of family. He believes the version of his nephew and he urged the family to file a case against my brother. I am expressing myself in this post.

Just allow me to quote Rommel when he mentioned the use of a Swiss knife by my brother while I told him it was Rico’s car key:


Then, his nephew Binolirao suffered a big head wound. “Ang akong pag-umangkon dako kaayo og samad sa ulo.”


I remember reading somebody from the Cebu Football Association (CFA) describing the injury as a “nasty gash.”

Two days after the incident, Binolirao went to the Cebu Provincial Capitol and appealed for help. Here is a picture of Binolirao with Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale that was published in Superbalita:

with magpale

I am still wondering where is the “dakong samad” and “nasty gash” that was stabbed by a “Swiss knife.” Maybe, the photographer missed the wound on Binolirao’s head. Or maybe, it was not that serious after all.

But whatever, even if Binolirao choked little JM Kwan, many contend that hitting the former on the head is unjustified. An adult has no right to enter a football field to interfere in a fight between kids even if a 5’7″ teener is choking a 5 foot tall boy. Non-interference takes precedence over saving a smaller kid from being choked.

Still, the argument goes, but why hit Binolirao on the head?

Allow me to post this screenshot as part of the other side:

Headlock danger

Yet, was it a headlock? Neck cranking? Or was Binolirao merely pinning JM Kwan? The pictures that were published and shared online only made many to go into another round of arguments. I, however, asked the opinions of Atty. Vicente Fernandez who is a judo instructor and fellow journalist John Rey Saavedra who is a jujitso instructor. On Facebook, there are also those who insisted JM Kwan was only pinned down, not choked nor was his head being cranked.

For ordinary laymen like me, we can say “gitook.” And that was what Rico saw at the heat of the moment.

Maybe, Sun.Star needs to publish a clearer picture of the situation before Rico arrived at the scene. So far, this was the only one published and five days after the incident:


With all these said, I can only add that my brother made a judgement call that many disagreed with. However, there are a few like little JM Kwan and the relatives of the other Ateneo players who believed Rico saved a life.

Ah, JM Kwan said his Tito Rico saved two lives. And his family is in the process of filing a case against Binolirao.

At this point, I want to touch something legal. There are also legal points like child abuse and defense of strangers. But I am not a lawyer so I will just present screenshots:

1. Here’s this piece of jurisprudence on child abuse:


2. Here’s a screenshot of the blog of Atty. Manuel J. Laserna Jr. at


As I said in the onset, this blog post is biased in favor of Rico, my brother. But I know the points presented by both sides. I won’t begrudge you if you will still join the lynching as long as you have also examined both sides and found the other sides wanting.

I respect all your opinions. All I am asking is also respect for my opinion. In the end, the controversy will be decided in the proper forums and Rico is prepared to face the consequences, unless of course there will be reconciliation in the mutual interest of all concerned.

Related links

“Take a Second Look” (Cebu Daily News)

Jose Mari Kwan’s Facebook Timeline

My In Between Columns on Facebook

Also follow @anol_cebu on Twitter.

‘Where is Sulpicio?’ Cordova official asks

Workers are in the process of getting fibers from sacks that will be made into anti-oil spill booms to protect the mangrove areas in Day-as, Cordova.

Workers are in the process of getting fibers from sacks that will be made into anti-oil spill booms to protect the mangrove areas in Day-as, Cordova.

Cordova town Councilor Angeles Pogoy-Gairanod did not mince words during a forum on the oil spill crisis off the coast of Cebu and Mactan island. “Where is Sulpicio?” she asked.

The forum focused on a lecture by Dr. Resurreccion ‘Rex’ Sadaba, an oil spill expert from the University of the Philippines Visayas.

The oil that reached Cordova town had leaked from the sunken MV St. Thomas Aquinas that was rammed by the MV Sulpicio Express Siete off the port of Cebu two weeks ago.

The tragedy has so far caused 94 deaths and 40 mission. Some 733 passengers and crew members of MV. St. Thomas Aquinas survived.

(From left) Cordova Vice Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy, Mayor Adelino Sitoy, Dr. Rex Sadaba, and 2GO VP Lito Silvio face members of the Cebu media during a press conference after the forum on oil spill at the Cordova Home Village Resort.

(From left) Cordova Vice Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy, Mayor Adelino Sitoy, Dr. Rex Sadaba, and 2GO Group AVP Lito Salvio face members of the Cebu media during a press conference after the forum on oil spill at the Cordova Home Village Resort.

While 2GO Group Inc., the owner of MV St. Thomas Aquinas had been helping daily the efforts to arrest the ill-effects and mitigate the impact of the oil spill on affected coastal communities, representatives of Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation commonly known as Sulpicio shipping had been obviously absent.

The 2GO Group, which had contracted experts including Dr. Sadaba, had been highly visible daily in its support for the efforts of the affected coastal communities.

Cebu Gov. Junjun Davide and Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama had earlier noted the absence of Sulpicio representatives during the rescue efforts and the oil spill cleanup.

A Capitol representative said Sulpicio representatives were not there during all the coordination meetings unlike 2GO officials which have been facing not only officials but also ordinary affected folks.

Nevertheless, the oil spill crisis is not as alarming as what has been pictured so far.

According to Dr. Sadaba, the oil spill crisis in Cebu is not as severe and alarming compared to what happened in Guimaras in 2006. The oil came from 120,000 liters carried by the ill-fated mv St. Thomas Aquinas that sank after it was rammed by the Sulpicio Express Siete at around 9 pm on August 16, 2013 at Lauis Ledge off Mactan island and the shores of Talisay City.

Dr. Sadaba, program manager of the Oil Spill Response Program of UP Visayas in Miagao, Iloilo, considered the oil spill situation in Cebu as a lot less alarming compared to what happened in Guimaras in 2006 in terms of volume of oil spilled.

While the Coast Guard has estimated some 120,000 liters now wreaking havoc in Cebu’s aquatic resources, the oil spill in Guimaras reached two million liters.

“What we have in Cebu is nothing compared to what happened in Guimaras,” said Dr. Sadaba as Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy listened along with other Cordova town and barangay officials, students, and members of the Cebu media.

During his lecture, Dr. Sadaba praised the local governments especially Gov. Junjun Davide and Mayor Sitoy in the organized response to the oil spill crisis. He recalled that two weeks after the oil spill in Guimaras, the cleanup efforts was disorganized.

Contracted by 2GO as a consultant who will scientifically guide clean up efforts, Dr. Sadaba urged local communities to to focus on areas outside the affected mangrove areas and on replacing booms that already absorbed oil.

He advised that interventions inside affected mangrove areas should be left to professionals. Aggressive community cleanup efforts inside affected mangrove areas will do more damage to the environment.

“Let us allow nature to heal itself,” Dr. Sadaba said.

Related stories

Study and tests needed on oil spill affected areas: expert

Cebu tragedy lesser than in Guimaras: oil spill expert

Beginning to like Globe’s Go Sakto

Launching Globe GoSakto at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu is Globe Prepaid Head Kristelle Dizon.

Launching Globe GoSakto at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu is Globe Prepaid Head Kristelle Dizon.

I did not immediately use Globe Telecom’s Prepaid Go Sakto right after that rousing Cebu launch at the plush Radisson Blu hotel several weeks ago. I insisted on sending the message ‘SUPER25’ to 8888 everyday to be able to save.

Was it routine? Maybe. Was it a natural resistance to try something new? Perhaps.

But somehow, at the back of my mind, I kept on wondering whether the ‘Go Sakto ‘ promo would stretch what I am spending daily.

The promo allows prepaid customers create and customize their own prepaid promo based on their needs, budget, and lifestyle. With Globe GoSakto, subscribers can make their own prepaid promo from scratch and choose the type and number of calls, texts and data they need for the day, week, or month.

The first of its kind the world, GoSakto recognizes that customers have different needs when it comes to telco services, thus empowering them to create the perfect prepaid promo that fits exactly their needs.

Subscribers can create their GoSakto promo via the self-service menu *143#, the Globe website at, or the GoSakto Facebook App at GoSakto even allows subscribers to name their promo, as well as let their Facebook friends register to the same promo, creating a community of GoSakto users online.

Short of going postpaid again (with a whole set of promos also that needed lining up), I tried the prepaid promo earlier today.

And with only P70 or so, I can now enjoy unlimited text messages to all networks and call all networks for 100 minutes a day? Hmmm. I kinda like it na.

Rizal during the days of social media

Downloaded from Twitter

Seeing “#Happy Rizal Day” trending in Twitter today gave me mixed feelings. This means many still remember Dr. Jose Rizal. But why say “Happy Rizal Day” to commemorate the day he was killed?

I find it quite ironic though that Filipinos 115 years after he was shot to death at Bagumbayan (now Luneta) by Spanish authorities would now greet each other “Happy Rizal Day.”

Do we tell each other “Happy Good Friday” to commemorate the day the Romans crucified and killed Jesus Christ?

Perhaps, we say “Happy Halloween” when we party on the eve of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. But never do we utter “Malipayong Kalag-Kalag” especially when we visit the burial place of our loved ones on November 1.

Why say “#Happy Rizal Day” on Twitter then?

Are we happy that Rizal’s death on December 30 some 115 years ago triggered the Philippine Revolution that led to freedom from Spanish colonialism?

A photo engraving of Andres Bonifacio, founder...

Image via Wikipedia

History books tell us this was same revolution that Rizal repudiated because he preferred more peaceful means of change. This was also the same revolution that killed its own leaders like Andres Bonifacio. This was likewise the same revolution whose victory the Americans snatched away from us because we were supposedly not ready for freedom and independence. This was the same revolution that the Americans suppressed brutally and killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos.

In Manila, the Americans did not grant their erstwhile allies — the Filipino revolutionaries who just declared Philippine independence on June 12, 1898 — the benefit of victory. The Americans declared victory against the Spaniards in the mock battle of Manila bay.

Cebuano revolutionaries fared better then. On December 24, 1898, the Spanish governor left the provincial government in the hands of a Cebuano caretaker governor — Don Pablo Mejia.

To me, saying “#Happy Rizal Day” only means the present Twitter generation vaguely remembers Rizal as a Philippine hero. They don’t anymore recall that December 30, 1896 was the day the Guardia Civil shot him to death.

Well, in a way, the killing of Rizal convinced Filipinos then that the days of peaceful struggle for reforms within the Spanish colonial system was over. The time for revolution has come. They began singing “ng mamatay ng dahil sa iyo” as they fought for independence.

English: Photo of Jose Rizals execution (1896)...

Image via Wikipedia

Years before his death, Rizal wrote in his essay “The Philippines — A Century Hence” the following passage:

“Very likely the Philippines will defend with inexpressible valor the liberty secured at the price of so much blood and sacrifice.  With the new men that will spring from their soil and with the recollection of their past, they will perhaps strife to enter freely upon the wide road of progress, and all will labor together to strengthen their fatherland, both internally and externally, with the same enthusiasm, with which a youth falls again to tilling the land of his ancestors who long wasted and abandoned through the neglect of those who have withheld it from him.  Then the mines will be made to give up their gold for relieving distress, iron for weapons, copper, lead, and coal.  Perhaps the country will revive the maritime and mercantile life for which the islanders are fitted by their nature, ability and instincts, and once more free, like the bird that leaves its cage, like the flower that unfolds to the air, will recover the pristine virtues that are gradually dying out and will again become addicted to peace — cheerful, happy, joyous, hospitable and daring.

These and many other things may come to pass within something like a hundred years …”

Unfortunately, the new Filipinos today — more than a century after Rizal’s death — don’t anymore posses a clear “recollection of their past (as we) … strife to enter freely upon the wide road of progress.”

It seems Filipino during the time of Twitter and other forms of social media are more content with mere exchanges of “Happy Rizal Day” to commemorate our country’s historic turning points.

Christmas Eve 2011: The Best Yet!

Spending Christmas Eve with the family through the years have been the best moments I look forward to every year. But Christmas Eve 2011 has been the best yet.

I arrived home from some last minute shopping (walked around the department stores in Colon Street because it was impossible to find an empty cab to go to the malls) just in time for dinner.

No, there was no lechon and other fancy recipes we had before. We had to save to have something worthwhile to give Sendong victims in northern Mindanao.

However, Doris made sure everybody would be seated at the veranda beside her Christmas lanterns. The dinner was simple yet the food was plenty enough to last until after the stroke of 12 midnight. Loud though out-of-tune singing of Christmas songs by neighbors provided us with comic entertainment.

Brother-in-law Archie Isubal (who came with wife Cecille, Nicole, Randolph, and Nanay) took care of the fireworks; the TV showed a Christmas concert; and children (and some not so young) singing carols at the gate.

My eldest Karlo was around fussing with Alya and Bordi. He arrived earlier last week with girlfriend Sheila. Ha! The ever observant Nanay describes her as ‘buotan.’

Earlier yesterday, Alya accompanied me to visit (and give gifts) to two political prisoners — Ramon Patriarca and Bert Acerdin — at the Danao City Jail. I was with Sun.Star Cebu‘s Ely Baquero and Gene Valenzuela of dyRC. A longer post on this later.

And Kikay, well, she had been waiting for weeks now for that moment to open her Christmas gifts.

The moments of family bonding made the hours pass so quickly. Before we knew it, the deafening booms and flashes of fireworks that lighted up the night made us realize it was already Christmas.

Thank you, Lord for all the blessings!