By: Nikka G. Valenzuela – Reporter/Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 06, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — A son of recently slain National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants on Saturday said his elderly and ailing parents could not have exchanged gunfire with the police and that he could have have fought for them in court had they been taken alive.
VJ Topacio, son of Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, both 68, was responding to a statement made earlier by Philippine National Police chief Gen. Debold Sinas who said the couple, who spent many years in the communist underground, would not have given up quietly.
The police said they were to serve a search warrant on the couple at their home in Angono town, Rizal province, at 3 a.m. on Nov. 25 when they were met by gunfire.
Col. Joseph Arguelles, Rizal police provincial director, said the couple “resisted arrest” and were killed in an ensuing shootout. Police said they recovered from the house two rifles, two .45-caliber pistols and two grenades.
It was unclear if the couple were charged with any specific crime.
Sinas said in an interview with ANC on Thursday that the family could seek an investigation if they believed the PNP committed wrongdoing, but he urged people “not to jump to conclusions.”
Responding to Sinas in a Facebook post on Saturday, VJ, a human rights lawyer, said his parents would have called a lawyer instead of fighting.
“You do not fight fair,” he told Sinas. “I would have asked that you arrest them. I could have fought for this in court. When they were killed, I wish you had allowed us to retrieve their bodies. But you hid them and you didn’t turn them over immediately.”
PNP chief explains
The Communist Party of the Philippines said the couple were sickly and had already retired as peace consultants to the NDFP.
But age had nothing to do with it, Sinas said.
“They were leaders and spent a lot of time in the underground movement. They were properly trained,” he said.
Sinas defended the police action and said the warrant was served at that time of day to prevent Magpantay and Topacio from learning about it.
“If it was served during daylight hours, everyone would have seen, they could have spotters or contacts who could warn them and they’d likely have escaped,” he said.
But another son, Tony Topacio, said in a separate Facebook post on Thursday called the killing “an execution, murder in the highest degree possible, an assassination.”
“Overkill would be a huge understatement,” he said.
Tony described his father as “an artist throughout his life,” who spent his time making bonsai.
He said his mother was “sickly and feeble … who was a teacher all throughout her life, in her last hours, would have been found armed with ‘pointed sticks’ that could be used for puncturing the eyes of ugly enemies but generally used for writing.”
‘Simple, elderly retirees’
VJ earlier said his mother suffered from diabetes and recently went into a four-day coma, while his father was in constant pain due to enlargement of the heart, a knee injury and frozen shoulder.
“There is simply no way that the elderly couple was even able to put up a resistance, let alone an armed one, against dozens of policemen,” he said.
Tony described his parents as “simple, elderly retirees who just [wanted] to be left alone in peace after a life of championing the oppressed, the farmers, the peasants, the workers, and the Filipino.”
“They could not have, overnight, summoned their inner Keanu Reeves and downloaded all the necessary skills to repel the ‘tokhang’-like maneuvers popularized early in the Duterte regime but was birthed much earlier down in the South back in the day,” he said.
Reeves is a Hollywood actor, popular for his action movies.
The brothers also said the police gave them the runaround before they were able to retrieve the remains of their parents.
VJ said they learned about the death of their parents only from their neighbors, not the police.
When the brothers sought to recover the remains, the police directed them to go from one place to another—from a Rizal police station, to other stations in Angono and Antipolo and to as far away as Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna province.
“Fortunately, my brother was able to locate them at Antipolo Memorial Homes where he was able to identify our parents,” VJ said.
Still the police did not immediately release the bodies, demanding that his brother produce identification for their parents.
When they finally recovered the remains, the police gave them no documentation regarding their deaths such as an investigation, a medicolegal or even just a spot report, VJ said.
“We literally got zero [papers]. We were only able to recover the bodies,” he said.
He told the Inquirer on Saturday that his parents’ remains had already been cremated.
The brothers had already sought the help of the Commission on Human Rights in probing the killing.
Topacio and Magpantay were the latest NDFP consultants killed this year.
Randall Echanis was beaten and stabbed to death in Quezon City in August. Another consultant, Randy Malayao, was shot to death while sleeping inside a bus in Nueva Vizcaya in January.
President Duterte terminated talks to end the 52-year-old insurgency in 2018, saying the rebels continued attacking soldiers and police despite the ongoing negotiations.
—With a report from Patricia Denise M. Chiu
Letter of Tony Topacio from his Facebook account
“For Agaton and Eugenia Topacio”
(My parents, peace-loving citizens summarily executed by operatives of the Devil himself)
Our family has been a victim of extra-judicial killing. It has turned its ugly head in our direction and literally entered our parent’s rented house early in the morning of November 25th 2020. (Please Google news articles).
It was an execution, murder in the highest degree possible, an assassination. Overkill would be a huge understatement.
On the government’s side, it was a successful police operation. It was a complete package worthy of a CIA-medal for its strict adherence to its handbook on state liquidation. With its customary add-ons of treachery to shock and awe, brutality and afterwards, the last stroke, its crude, amateurish, interior redesigning to fix the crime scene in consonance with the main plot. That is, of two elderly and sickly retirees suddenly turning into Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie shooting it out mano a mano ‘till the last bullet before the sun rises. Somewhere in the rooms of Camp Crame, I guess, is a film acting and scriptwriting course one needed to ace upon enlistment worthy of a nod from Quentin Tarantino.
My retiree father, an artist throughout his life, focused his talents in crafting “bonsai” plant art – you could say he became an accidental “plantito”. In fact, I will never complain if the police report claims that “found inside the crime scene were intentionally stunted trees brutally cut daily to prevent its natural growth and used and sold for aesthetic purposes in the black market probably, thus meriting a Writ of Kalikasan”.
My sickly and feeble mother on the other hand, a UP intellectual who was a teacher all throughout her life, in her last hours, would have been found armed with “pointed sticks that could be used for puncturing the eyes of ugly enemies but generally used for writing” and stacks of books that could contain “subversive words and meanings, provided you can fathom what your looking for; normal people call them word search or boggle mind games – but I surmise it is differently taught in that one room I was referring to earlier.
In the spin of the government, my parents, awake and very much prepared with Super-Saiyan awareness, attacked the 30-plus good-meaning, and armed to the teeth police first, just out to serve a valid search warrant, at 3am in the morning. That the modern and hi-tech weapons found in their persons (my parents bodies), that they allegedly used to snipe and shoot at a clad of black-clothed, camouflaged men, were—invested upon by my parents with their savings, spending hundreds of thousands of pesos to prepare for any eventuality, particularly imagining that fateful day, and without pomp and circumstance, like Brand and Angelina, shoot it out in a glorified ending. Definitely good tabloid read.
Both Agaton and Eugenia are not good savers. They have nothing to save! And in instances where they have some money to spare, immediately they set it aside for their apos. They even gave us their “punong punong alkansya ng taglilimang piso” just months before, probably having a short psychic forewarning of the events that will happen, “kaysa naman makuha ng kung sino mang demonyo”.
They were simple elderly retirees who just wants to be left alone in peace after a life of championing the oppressed, the farmers, the peasants, the workers, and the Filipino. They could not have, overnight, summoned their inner Keanu Reeves and downloaded all the necessary skills to repel the tokhang-like maneuvers popularized early in the Duterte regime but was birthed much earlier down in the South back in the day.
Personally, I accept that it is pointless to expect a confession (or conviction) from their killers. Sometimes it is better to dream. And in my “woke” dream, I see a thousand smiles flowing throughout the archipelago, flowing from the provinces to the cities, enveloping everybody. In my dream, I see young faces leading a long march, walking slowly so that the elderly and the infirm can keep up, and everywhere there is greenery and in the middle is a big table where everybody can eat with their hands.
How I wish, like Gat Andres and all the martyrs, for a country free from all the bondage leeching it to the point of malnutrition.
We have 7,100 plus islands, we have vast mineral deposits, we have protective mountain ranges, we have a tropical climate conducive for food production, yet we also have a faulty system that breeds the Dutertes and the Sinases of the world. That breeds the warlords seated comfortably in the “Houses” perpetuating their hold on provincial power for as long as memory can hold. And that system allows for them to create our laws which, of course, are fine-tuned and calibrated to, you guess right, perpetuate their hold in power.
If, by the sheer force of the willpower of the people both (Du30 and Sinas) can be held to account for their sins I will be somewhat, a little happy but, for the record, I will not be personally be satisfied for it is not the change of the face in Malacanang that matters, as what confuses most people. The system needs to be deleted. It has to be rebuilt from zero. IT DOES NOT WORK FOR US FILIPINOS ANYMORE.
I heard of many opinions, which I respect, but in my view, has been a little sidelined or confused as to why “habitual” protesters automatically converge in the streets no matter who the President is – as if protesting is just a normal, easy, and lucrative job.
Worse, even implying that the rallyists are bayaran or at least riding that propaganda. Sure, they need some form of budget to mobilize, but to insinuate such is an affront to the freedom of expression enshrined in international constitutions and to the people who dare embrace and wield it against——————OPPRESSION OF ALL KINDS.
To protest is to exercise your right and nothing more. It is your right. It is not a sin, nor a disease. To scoff at them rallyists/activists is unconstitutional, to repress or stop them is a restraint of their individual freedom. The highest insult ever to a person.
I remember when everyone was excited when Du30 was elected. Everyone from the far left to the Center Middle to most of the Right. Most from Davao where people benefited from his strongman tactics; he allegedly curbed the drug trade, maintained peace and order, and brought prosperity to Davao so I understand their support. He showed that he can mingle and maintain peace from the Left to the Right. A guaranteed Nobel Prize surely IF he can pull it off, or if he cares to even try. I say he gave it a lackluster, good ‘ole man, heave. I could grudgingly give him that.
Thus, he even invited leftist personalities to join him in his Cabinet, moves which were welcomed with enthusiasm – he could really make things happen, “now that we have a STRONG President”. I even had an FB picture beside a Duterte mural hoping that there will be changes under his promising brand. Hell, I even unfollowed some “nega friends” who seemed to have nothing good to say as they refer to their “experience with Duterte in Davao”.
But when the killings started early in his drug war, the very fragile democracy, or what remains of it, that we have established since 1987, was thrown out the window. I instantly lost appetite, for the concept of due process was quickly and summarily executed under the “grave and imminent danger” scenario floated by Duterte, to convince the people, to rally the troops, and fool a newly-formed Superduper Majority Congress to cough up the money for his war.
Meanwhile, a passive Supreme Court, by design, awaits and grapples with the niceties of procedure while the people, including lawyers and Judges are being killed left and right. Woe to expanded certiorari jurisdiction.
Thus, the narrative from that point turned towards a consolidation of power much like what Thanos (Marcos) did. Duterte has, thru sheer force, moved towards the consolidation of all powers and, while doing so, has magically maintained a fresh and flowery fragrance to his supporters – to those who dissent, he exudes the smell of a pungent drying creek with floating dead rats, wrigglers, worms and all comes to mind. Bravo to state PR machinery.
Now, at this stage, he is calling out all dissenters, wielding that same ugly Tokhang Weapon used against my parents – religiously and minutely oiled to make the men in uniform happy and motivated. He is red-tagging everbody else not to repel the wave of death like what happened with Moses and the first followers of Christ, but to form a hit list, a loooooong list of dissenting Filipinos, to be lined up for execution or state repression.
Talk about demeaning activism and holding it in parallel with Drug pushing.
Many more will be killed. Many more heroes will fall. But during times like these, the Universe calls forth in the dreams of the Youth, in the dreams of the Oppressed, in the dreams of the Young and the Innocent,… a cry for Consolidation. A cry for Unity. A call to Action. A cry to shelve out all differences. A cry to fuse our elbows together and prepare to march. An ancient cry for people to come out. As your ancestors have been oppressed and bullied, your DNA can definitely hear that cry. A cry to smite the pride, the falsehood, and the SHIT, out of these pretenders currently spinning witchery into our nation’s consciousness.
The Universe hates bullies. It is slowly but surely waking up the sleeping dragon within all of us. Wake up, suit up, find and lace up your rubber shoes, find your pens, backpacks ready….wake up….suit up. Be open to the idea, like me, that you were wrong in supporting this CIRCUS. Never too late to stand on the side of the GOOD.
There will be a point of reckoning.
During one of the darkest periods in Philippine History, a group of ideas were floated and formed by the best and brightest of our youth back then. Today, as once again eclipse-like darkness covers the land, I am optimistic that, once again, the youth will take the challenge and struggle on for a just, peaceful, and totally-free Bayang Pilipinas.
To all those who expressed their condolences and support, maraming maraming salamat po.
To all the nameless heroes who joined the ranks to serve the people with my parents – SALUTE!
“Sa masa, manggagawa, at magsasaka, na hindi makapagsulat ng mensahe, ibinabahagi namin ulit sila sa inyo para maitanim sa memorya ng isip at ng lupa. Na minsan may Tony at Tagay na naglakad sa mga tumana, sa gilid ng mga gulod, sa matirik na Sierra Madre, iniwan ang pamilya, bitbit ang mulat na panaginip para sa lahat na ….bukas may mas magandang umaga.