The day hope for justice died in Ilocos Sur

The day hope for justice died in Ilocos Sur


 

In the early morning of March 31, 2003, a Monday, a year before the 2004 elections, in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, the hope for justice died in Ilocos Sur.

At that moment, a van was negotiating Ayusan Norte to dzXE AM radio station when rapid fires rained bullets on it in an ambush that still lingers to this day as the incessant cry for justice in the benighted Ilocos Sur.

            Right after the ambush, six persons were seen bathed in a pool of blood. The van was carrying radio broadcaster Efren Rafanan Sr., then a board member of Ilocos Norte.  He and his daughter Renalyn also got hit by bullets but God made it a point to make them survive.

The other passengers of the van were his wife Evelyn, his son Raffy Bryan, his brother Dennis, and his security aide Elgene de Ocampo.  All these four died on the spot.

Efren Rafanan
Efren was not able to exercise freedom of the press that day. Thus, along with the hope for justice, the liberty fought for by Jose Rizal and company died also in Ilocos Sur.

To this day, not one has been charged with four counts of murder and two counts of frustrated murder.

The ambush was not only a strong political statement. It was more of a dramatic representation that justice has long been dead in Ilocos Sur.  

Rafanan’s run for governorship carried with it the hope for justice to reign for the Ilocanos there. It was also a test of how can nobility and humility fare against terror, infidelity and criminality.  So that when dreams were defeated by evil, so did that hope of these Ilocanos for justice and for free press.

Prior to the ambush against Rafanan and his family, there had already been untold murders, oppression and abuses committed. To this day, not one of these has seen the light of justice.  Actually so many crimes of lesser brutality has continued to occur, including that slaying of a woman auditor.

It is an understatement to say that the police officers and men stationed in Ilocos Sur are not afraid to conduct investigation to hail to court all those responsible to dozens of crimes committed in that province.

It is also an understatement to say that prosecutors are afraid to start the wheel of justice turn for the victims.

It is also an understatement to say that the courts and judges are inutile to try cases even if the police and the prosecution offices are not afraid to investigate and file charges.

Incessant calls have been made for the national government to intervene but these remained only calls and without more.

Then—and now—Ilocos Sur Governor Chavit Singson has been pointed to by Efren as the brains behind the ambush.  The governor denied it, blaming the incident to his supporters who he could not control to eliminate his only rival for the governorship.
Chavit Singson (in red) appears behind Pacquiao

In the 2004 elections, Efren lost the fight. But of course the spirit of justice that has been the dream of many Ilocanos in that land remains alive until today.

On March 31, 20012, Efren celebrated the 9th anniversary of the deaths of his loved ones and the death of the hope of justice.  

He posted on his Facebook wall the picture of the van showing bullet holes. He also posted the pictures of the dead. 

Then he wrote thereon as the first to comment, saying: 

“’NOT GOLD , BUT ONLY MEN CAN MAKE A NATION GREAT AND STRONG. MEN, WHO FOR TRUTH AND HONORS SAKE, STAND FAST AND SUFFERS LONG. BRAVE MEN WHO WORK WHILE OTHERS SLEEP... WHO DARES, WHILE OTHERS SHY. THEY BUILD A NATION, PILLARS DEEP AND LIFT THEM UP TO THE SKY’.. Ralp Waldo Emerson... Sa Paglaya ng ating bayan... Kung Hindi Tayo, Sino?... Kung Hindi Ngayon, Kailan?...  Kung Hindi Dito... Saan magsisimula ang Pagbabago?...”

Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM) shares the dreams and hope of the Ilocanos of Ilocos Sur.

The ambush against Rafanan family and the crimes committed against other Ilocanos in that tobacco province have demonstrated the inutility of the present justice system in the whole country.

ALAM filed its application for partylist registration with the platform of advocating the PEOPLE’S JUSTICE SYSTEM or the HUKUMAN NG MAMAMAYAN.

It is supported by a hundred other non-governmental organizations advocating for noble reforms and for establishment of social justice infrastructures.

ALAM wants to establish a jury of people to serve as the body that has the exclusive authority to decide who to charge in court.  

The members of the jury shall be 23 with two alternates. These persons shall be chosen from the voters’ list.  First, there shall be a computer raffle to pick 150 persons who would then be screened to know who have the competence for probity and integrity and who are the most capable to overcome prejudices and biases and who are most likely independent-minded. To enhance their independence and fairness attitude, their names and faces shall not be known to the public.

ALAM also wants that court trials shall be decided by another jury of people picked for each trial.  They shall be chosen in the same manner the investigating jurors are selected.  The trial jurors can be seen only inside the court during trials.

If ALAM’s application is approved by the Comelec and if it wins seats for the Congress, it will pursue this agenda as its top priority.

“Let us work together to establish a justice system that all sinners, rich or poor, warlords or not, are tried and punished accordingly,” says ALAM chairman Jerry S. Yap.

“That justice is assured to all is the pre-requisite for a country to flourish on merit and fair competition and for the rebels to be convinced to surrender their guns,” ALAM president Berteni “Toto” Cataluña Causing stressed.
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