Thursday, July 27, 2006


Just out of the presses is “u.g.: An Underground Tale” by Benjamin Pimentel which is about “the journey of Edgar Jopson and the First Quarter Storm Generation.”

More than 15 years ago, Pimentel came out with a book on Jopson, the young leftist leader in the underground movement who was shot and killed while being chased by the military. Two editions have since been printed but Pimentel, feeling that more needed to be told, recently came out with a more complete story. And so “u.g.”, the book, emerged from the underground, so to speak.

For total political innocents, UG means underground, or that political movement (armed and unarmed) that operated clandestinely at that time and worked toward revolutionary change in society and were therefore considered threats to the status quo. They were called subversives by the establishment. That is my loose definition of it. It still applies today.

“UG” is now part of the leftist jargon, like “mob” (for mobilization), “PO”, “CS”, “DPA”, “H”, “kasams”, “oryentasion”, to name a few. (Hey, someone should do a compilation of the undergroundspeak of the martial law era.)

Anyway, “u.g.” still tells the same story of a young man from a rich family, educated at the Ateneo, and gave up his life of privilege in order to pursue his dream of helping the poor and the powerless by struggling to change the oppressive structures in society. That was what the old edition “Edjop: The Unusual Journey of Edgar Jopson” was about. What “Edjop” did not have “u.g.” now has. “u.g.” includes the nuances of Edjop’s struggle.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

DNA on soiled panties and condoms

In the news these past days were the items related to the alleged rape case that involved Filipino complainant-victim “Nicole” and the four accused US Marines. Forensic analyst Dr. Francisco Supe Jr. of the PNP Crime Laboratory told the court that DNA was indeed present in the two pieces of evidence that he had examined.

The panty yielded male and female DNA samples, with the female DNA sample matching Nicole’s. Strangely, the condom did not yield a male DNA profile. The male DNA found on the panty has yet to be matched with those of the accused, particularly DNA from Lance Corporal Daniel Smith who had used it in what the defense called “consensual sex.”

In this case, a lot will depend on the material evidence. I hope this will yield lessons on how evidence should be preserved and handled with utmost care by the victims and investigators. The accused and their conspirators have all the reasons to cover their tracks.

Well, in their hurry to get back to their ship the accused in this rape case weren’t able to get rid of the condom and Nicole’s panty as well.

Still, there might have been some mishandling of the vital pieces of evidence when these were turned over and this might have allowed environmental factors to damage other vital traces.

A “rape kit” would have come in handy for Nicole and the persons trying to help her immediately after the traumatic incident.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

How much for a drink of urine?

How much would it be for Wildredo Quijano who was made to drink urine (“I don't know whose urine it was,” he said) and who spent his 17th birthday and nine birthdays after that in prison?

How much should Paula Romero, a former seamstress, receive for her missing son Henry, a newspaperman at the time of his disappearance?

How much for the 34-year-old woman in Mindanao who woke up one night to find her house being set on fire by some 15 armed men who then stabbed her husband who died in front of her? How much for her own 10 stab wounds? This woman bled till morning and was still clasping her six-month-old baby when help came. Her five-year-old child ran for his life and called for help. When the village people came it was already morning but the woman was still alive. I interviewed her many years ago.

How do you put a price tag on the pain of Purificacion Viernes, a health worker from Mindanao whose husband and two children were killed? In 1984, armed men came in the dead of night and strafed the home of the Vierneses who were suspected of being rebel sympathizers. The next thing Purificacion saw were brain tissues and blood splattered all over. Her two children died instantly and she heard her husband breathe his last.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Bishops treated as hacks?

If it is true that someone had been distributing money envelopes, supposedly from Malacanang, to members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) during their retreat and plenary assembly I hold the bishops partly to blame. How could this have happened?

According to an Inquirer news report yesterday by Christian V. Esguerra, a bishop (described as “soft-spoken” and “low-key”) admitted having been handed an envelope by a “casual-looking” man who had introduced himself as a messenger “from Malacanang.”

How could the bishops or their personnel allow in an outsider during their retreat and deliberations on a much-awaited statement? Why was this Mr. Moneybags allowed to walk around and distribute envelopes containing between P20,000 and P30,000? If this indeed happened or was allowed to happen, then one could only conclude that the bishops were caught unawares or “tatanga-tanga”. Sorry, but that is the translation in Filipino and its root word does not sound nice.

If they were in conclave electing a pope, word would have gotten out before white smoke could come out of the chimney.

And why didn’t anyone raise a howl right there and then? The bishops were after all in their territory. They were not guests in a place where decorum would have dictated that they did not embarrass their host with an uproar. If I were on the receiving end, I would have roared, “Who the devil sent you?!” or “Begone, Satan!” then called security and staff to help investigate who the uninvited guest was.