Two big unsolved Philippine murders
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-08-21
My maternal grandmother, Leoncia C. Macgregor, lived to be 103 and she had words of wisdom even learned men sometimes dare not question. We call her affectionately as Abuelita, the Spanish term for grandmother, or literally, little grandmother. Abuelita would caution us about August as the month when bad things happen or when bad things get even worse.

History seems to validate Abuelita’s prognosis about an ominous August. A lot of wars do start in August — not exactly because of something preternatural — but because this is summertime in Europe, a good time to wage war.

In our country, two of the biggest unsolved murders of our lifetime were committed in August. Senator Ninoy Aquino was murdered on August 21, 1983, an event that was to trigger the fall of the Marcos Dictatorship. The other unsolved murder is that of Local Government Secretary Jimmy Ferrer who was assassinated on August 2, 1987.

Ninoy Aquino was returning home because Ferdinand Marcos was said to be dying. The circumstance around Marcos’ real ailment was shrouded in secrecy and speculation but I have it from an unimpeachable source that Marcos had a kidney transplant operation and suffered a rejection. Ninoy knew this and he wanted to return home to have a hand in the succession.

We all know what happened to Ninoy Aquino on the day he set foot on Philippine soil. Left unanswered is the big question: who ordered the assassination? Was it Marcos himself or was it someone very close to Marcos whose sights were focused on succeeding him?

Like that of Ninoy Aquino, Jimmy Ferrer’s killers have been captured, convicted and behind bars. But in both murders, the masterminds had never been identified.

The list of masterminds for Jimmy Ferrer’s murder is more complicated. There are three theories on who may have ordered Ferrer’s killing. These are as follows:

1. It could be an OIC who is threatened with being replaced. (OICs were the appointed Officers-in-Charge who functioned as local executives during the transition phase of the Cory Administration). Ferrer was firing OICs left and right. He had also announced before his murder that 40 OICs were lined up for replacement.

2. It could be the CPP-NPA whose Alex Boncayao Brigade was murdering police officers and local public officials they’ve tagged as “enemies of the people.” Ferrer was hurting the Communists because of his Nakasaka Program that were dismantling Communists political fronts.

3. It could be coup plotters setting the stage for new offensive following a series of failed coup attempts against the Cory administration. Anyone plotting a coup would have to figure out how to contain Ferrer at Local Government who can easily mobilize a counter-coup with the help of his OICs.

It seems likely that Jimmy Ferrer’s murder was intended to set the stage for the coup that transpired on August 28, 1987. During Ka Jaime’s wake at the San Agustin Church, a radio commentator who is known to be close to the Right Wing groups sat beside me and whispered that the murder of Ferrer is a preparation for a major coup.

I was then a Local Government Assistant Secretary and the radio commentator heard me discuss the possibility that the Communists could have ordered the assassination. The setup made it look like an Alex Boncayao Brigade hit — except for the fact that a convict was used to lead the death squad.

The ring leader of the Ferrer death squad, Jose Obosa, was a convict who was temporarily released to do the job. That provided the perfect cover and alibi. The Communists aren’t inclined to utilize convicts to do their killings and they don’t have the capacity to enlist them. The Right Wing groups do.

It is also quite unlikely for a threatened OIC to resort to murdering Ferrer in order to keep his post. Murdering a Local Government Secretary is a high stakes gamble and mayors and governors have traditionally confined their violence to the local level.

The Ferrer assassination appeared to have been a Right Wing job that was made to look like a murder committed by the Left. Before the Ferrer assassination, a Leftist labor leader, Rolando Olalia, was murdered under the most gruesome circumstances — one that smacked of Right Wing hatred.

Olalia was to the Left what Ferrer was to the Moderates. Both murders could have been plotted in order to erode the support of the EDSA forces (the Moderates and the Left of Center) for Cory Aquino.

For the executors of the Ninoy Aquino and Jimmy Ferrer assassinations to be languishing in jail and yet refuse to identify their masterminds would indicate that these masterminds are still very much around and still wield power. It also means that the masterminds are taking care of their families.

Otherwise, these convicts would have agreed to proposals of reduced sentences in exchange for identifying the masterminds of both murders.

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