January 17, 2010 in Featured
By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
BAGUIO CITY — The brother of a murdered human rights worker reiterated his opposition anew to the Board of Pardons and Parole of the Department of Justice recommendation to release one of the culprits of his brother’s murder.
Cirilo L. Batan wrote Reynaldo G. Bayang, executive director of the BPP-DOJ, expressing his strong opposition on the recommendation to grant parole to Agustin Tao-ad Agpawan, among the five members of the CAFGU who mercilessly shot his brother Christopher Batan while on their way to document human rights violations by the culprits’ village in Sadanga, Mountain Province.
The opposition letter was sent on Tuesday, January 12, by Batan to the BPP after the latter published in the Philippine Star on January 5 that Agpawan was among the 56 prisoners who are recommended for parole/executive clemency by their (BPP) office.
Batan reasoned out that they oppose the recommendation for Agpawan’s parole/executive clemency on the ground that if released Agpawan is a great threat to his family, relatives and witnesses of the case against his co-accused, one who is being tried and two are remain un-arrested up to this time.
“Mr. Agpawan has not shown any remorse on the crime that he has done until now and in fact has not apologized to us,” Batan added in his strongly worded letter which was also sent to the Office of the President, DOJ Secretary, the Trial Court in this city trying the case and the city prosecutor.
Batan explained in his letter that the companions of Agpawan who are at large and their fellow CAFGU are feared in their place in Mountain Province as they carry high powered firearms and boast that Mr. Agpawan shall soon be released.
The threats on Cirilo Batan and his family continue.
He received a letter on July 15, 2009 from alleged concerned citizens of Betwagan, Sadanga, the village of the accused, which states that Cirilo insulted them and he (Cirilo from the Lias tribe of Barlig, Mountain Province) does not recognize their peace pact with Betwagan.
Cirilo denied that Betwagan people ever approached him. He said that the letter was a threat as it was mailed in the post office in this city and contains no signatories, except the words Concerned Citizens of Betwagan.
Batan said that the City Trial Prosecutor Ruth Bernabe also wrote the BPP/DOJ on April 20 last year. Bernabe defended in her letter her office’s objection to the executive clemency by Agpawan as the trial of Panyong Rongan, one of the accused, is being heard before RTC Branch 59.
Nordis learned from Batan that the witnesses against Rongan are the same witnesses against Agpawan and the other accused.
To release Agpawan would threaten these witnesses, Batan explained.
The murder of Cristopher Batan happened on February 23, 1993 in Betwagan when he , together with Anglican priest Eduardo Solang and Mila Fanaang were on their way to the Betwagan village to document human rights violations committed during the Marcos regime which they would be included in the compensation case against the former dictator.
They were shot at by five CAFGUs fatally hitting Cristopher. The case was transferred through the order of the Supreme Court from Bontoc to this city due to the threat from the accused.
Agpawan and Bonifacio Chumacog were arrested in 1993 and 2004, respectively and were convicted afterwards.
Rongan surrendered in 2004 and is being tried by the same court.
Still at large accused
The other co-accused Mathew “Mateo” Fanao and Kengeb Fayno are still at large.
The court in this city had issued arrest warrants issued against Fanao and Fayno but to this day had not been arrested.
Nordis learned that Fanao has not been arrested by authorities despite being the Barangay Captain of Betwagan and the president of the Association of Barangay Captains in Sadanga in the past.
He has alleged connections with local politicians and military officials, said sources who claimed not to be identified. # nordis.net