Stupidity and/or Cupidity
October 22, 2022
Any idiot would know that Jun Villamor was the key to identifying the mastermind behind the execution of Percy Lapid. Lapid’s self-confessed killer, Joel Escorial, had identified Villamor as the fellow who had hired/ordered him (Escorial) to do it, and also knew where he was domiciled – at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa. Apparently, Escorial and Villamor knew each other from way back (I heard this from PNP Acting Southern Police District Director Kirby Kraft’s ANC interview).¹
So, if anybody wanted this vital information, wouldn’t it have made sense to immediately ensure Villamor’s security? Especially with Bilibid’s reputation for, to put it mildly, being cavalier about the lives of its inmates? Or especially because of the tremendous public interest in the case? Or, especially because the Percy family had implored the authorities to do so, in the interest of justice?
That’s not what happened. According to Kraft, Escorial completed his “extrajudicial confession” containing all these revelations, around about 11-12 midnight of Oct. 17. But the PNP thought to wait until the next day to call the NBP. No hurry.
Unfortunately, the NBP (under DOJ) gave the PNP (under DILG) the runaround. There was no prisoner there by the name of Crisanto Villamor, Jr., (the name given by Escorial). And that was it.
No follow up questions on the part of PNP like – is there any other Villamor in NBP? Nor was NBP forthcoming, which is particularly suspicious, since at 2PM or so, an inmate named Villamor had been rushed to the NBP hospital, where he had died of “undetermined causes”.
The Villamor who died and the Villamor the PNP was seeking turns out to be one and the same!. Oh my stars and stockings! What a coincidence!
DOJ Secretary Remulla says he does not believe in coincidences.² Good for him. So he is placing the BuCor chief Gerard Bantag under indefinite suspension, later changed to 90 day preventive suspension, while the whole thing is being investigated. And still later, it seems it was the President, and not Remulla, who gave the order for the suspension.
Aanhin pa ang damo kung patay na ang kabayo? Will the investigation elicit the information which only Villamor could provide, namely the identity of the mastermind behind Percy’s execution?
And do you think the Villamor autopsy will have credible results?
The answer to the first questions is obviously NO. The answer to the second will depend on what the Reader thinks of the NBI. But, here’s the silver lining: It MAY lead to necessary reforms in the BuCor or in the penal system. Don’t hold your breath.
One cannot resist asking a third question: how come convicted criminals like Villamor have access to cell phones in the NBP, while someone like Leila de Lima , who is still on trial, has no access to any electronic devices while detained by the PNP? The injustice of it all.
# # #
I used to think that only members of our legislature had access to the Pork Barrel – which in turn used to be Lump Sum Funds in the national budget, but because of a Supreme Court ruling,³ now have to be identified, item by item. The general public thinks that because of the ruling, the congressional pork barrel has been deleted. Think again.
But now, it looks to me like members of our Executive Branch like their legislative counterparts, also have a pork barrel. And they’ve done the legislators one better, because these funds are not subject to normal audit procedures of the COA. Their pork barrel is also a lump sum under the name “Confidential and Intelligence Funds” (CIF) .
(Of course the CIF of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ÅFP), or the PNP, or PDEA, or other like agencies that do all the stuff related to national security, are not included in this “pork barrel” list. That’s what they do.)
Let’s look at the Office of the President (OP), whose CIF budget has risen nine-fold from the PNoy Aquino administration to the present, so that it now takes more than 50% of the total budget of the office. How can President Marcos’ (and Duterte’s) CIF budget be almost three times more than the CIF of the entire AFP of P1.7 bilion? Isn’t that a ridiculous proposition on its face?
But at least the OP doesn’t try to defend an indefensible position. The DepEd enthusiastically takes on that task. It has defended its granted request for a P150 million CIF (which is greater than the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency’s CIF of P141 million) thusly: “Confidential expenses are allowed for all civilian offices, including the DepEd. This has solid legal basis as provided under DBM Joint Circular 2015-01.”
Whoops, the DepEd’s slip is showing. Joint Circular 2015-01 is authored by the COA, DBM, DILG, Governance Commission for GOCCs, and the DND. That’s why it is called a Joint Circular. And it doesn’t provide “solid legal basis”, it merely gives “guidelines on the entitlement, release……and audit of confidential and/or intelligence funds”.
And why does it need these funds (reportedly for the first time in the DepEd’s history)? Here’s what DepEd says: To deal with “just some of the pressing issues” it faces: “sexual abuse all other forms of violence, graft and corruption; involvement in illegal drugs of learners and personnel; recruitment to insurgency, terrorism, and violent extremism; child labor; child pornography; recruitment to criminal activities, gangsterism, and financial and other scams.” For this it needs surveillance and intelligence gathering.
One’s immediate reaction to this defense is Really? Has the DepEd not heard of the PNP, the Ombudsman, the PDEA, the AFP, the DOLE, the DSWD? The DepEd wants to reinvent the wheel?
Methinks the DepEd protests too much. What’s more, it may be jeopardizing its main objective, which is to improve the quality of education and get the children back on track from the devastation caused by government incompetence in handling the pandemic.
1 Listen to the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfKW2VxKd3w.
2 See quotes: https://www.manilatimes.net/2022/10/22/news/second-middleman-in-lapid-slay-bared/1863235; https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/10/21/22/bucor-chief-suspended-after-middleman-in-percy-lapid-slay-dies
^^Def. “greed for money or possessions”.
3 Belgica v. Ochoa, G.R. No. 208566. November 19, 2013. Read the decision at the Philippine Supreme Court website here