Press Statement | 23 November 2018
We would have let it slide but the contrived tale peddled by one Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 303rd Brigade, that the two armed military men who persistently tailed our convoy of NUPL lawyers and clients ftom people’s organizations last Sarurday just takes the cake.
The military belatedly claims that their men who hounded, taunted, harassed and threatened our convoy in the four-hour trip from Bacolod all the way to Sipalay had “mission orders” and were tasked to “monitor and provide security” to our group as we came down to pay our last respects to our fallen colleague Ben Ramos.
This is hilarious and evidently incredible. It is an astoundingly silly excuse. Why would military men, from the same organization that is potentially involved in the killing of our own, “escort” us without our knowledge, much less consent or permission?
Is it not the job of the police to provide security? Why were the two arrogant men in civilian clothes, hooded sweaters and in flipflops? Why was the motorcycle they were riding and the pickup vehicle which kept on breaking our convoy without any license plates? Why did they have to tail us very closely and take pictures of us – even after we have tried to shake them off many times – when we just came from a widely-covered press conference and that our trip to Sipalay for Ben’s burial was well-known?
Why did one of them attempt to pull a gun when we reached our destination and gazed at us menacingly? Why did they not identify themselves and announce their supposed legitimate and benign intentions when they were accosted by the police and when questioned at the police station and at the inquest proceedings? Why was one of them carrying different IDs with different names while the other stubbornly refused to show any identification?
Why did they not produce any “mission order” nor licenses for their handguns till after the inquest proceedings? And why did they go to the inquest in baseball caps, hoods, dark eyeglasses and facemasks all the time and refused to remove them until we demanded so?
These and many more curious questions short of a rigorous cross-examination will make these arrogant armed men and their handlers wilt and expose them for what they truly were. They just don’t add up.
The facts and circumstances abundantly speak for themselves and make the military claim that they were not harassing us or our clients nothing but a lie, a whole lie, and nothing but a lie.
And that is the insecurity the military provided to all of us up close, in utter disrespect of our time of grief and rage.#
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL Secretary General
Atty. Josalee S. Deinla