CHAVIT TAGGED AT MASSACRE VICTIM'S FUNERAL

Vigan, Ilocos Sur, April 10. 2003
 - Radio commentator Efren Rafanan's wife
Evelyn; his son, Raffy Brian; brother Dennis and bodyguard Elgin de Ocampo
were buried Wednesday at the Ayusan Sur Public Cemetery amid calls for the
prosecution of former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson.

The Rafanans were ambushed last March 31 by unidentified men near radio
station dzXE in Vigan.

Rafanan, a known critic of Singson, and his daughter Renelyn survived the
ambush.

The Save Ilocos Sur Alliance alleged Singson was the mastermind. Singson
has denied the accusation.

Rafanan said he would not allow the perpetrators to silence him. "We are
not going to stop."

Several streamers pointed to Singson as the mastermind.

One streamer read: "Pagbayarin si Chavit sa mga utang sa mamamayan,
katarungan sa pamilya Rafanan!"

Makati Rep. Agapito "Butz" Aquino, secretary general of Laban ng
Demokratikong Pilipino; Nueva Ecija Rep. Carlos Padilla, House minority
leader; Jamby Madrigal, who represented Sen. Loi Ejercito-Estrada; and
Angelito Banayo, Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino secretary general, extended
their condolences to Rafanan and relatives of De Ocampo.

"We no longer need promises, we need action, we need justice now," Estrada
said in a speech read by Madrigal during a program held at Plaza Burgos.

"Kumilos na ang mamamayan ng Ilocos Sur upang gumawa ng paraan ang
awtoridad to stop these political attacks," she said.

President Joseph Estrada asked the people of Ilocos Sur not to give up in
their quest for justice.

"When the people of Ilocos Sur, as much as your brothers and sisters all
over the land realize that justice must be fought for and upheld every inch
of the way and the rule of law be made to prevail once again in this our
beloved country, then the death of Evelyn and her son and the other victims
of evil tyranny and patent injustice, shall not have been in vain," Estrada
said in a message delivered by Banayo.

Estrada assailed the government for ignoring Rafanan's plea that the case
be handled by a special task force.

"From the acting president to the highest tribunal, to the enforcers of the
law, justice is a selective commodity, dispensed only to themselves and
their friends, and denied with impunity against those who they despise, or
the ordinary man they care little, if any, about," Estrada said.

Estrada lamented that Malacaņang did not even bother to send its
sympathies, giving a clear signal that the victims could not expect justice.

"Why is it that the government is clearly afraid to know the truth (about
the killings)? Is it because the real authority here in your province was
proclaimed by Mrs. Arroyo as her personal hero?" Estrada asked.

Aquino said the ambush was meant to silence the opposition in Ilocos Sur.

"Pero sa ginawa nila, buhay na buhay ang oposisyon sa Ilocos Sur," he said.
"Si Rafanan ang katotohanan," he told a cheering crowd.

Renelyn, in a letter for her mother, said: "Ang sama-sama nila Ma, gusto
nilang patayin si Papa. Wala silang pakundangan, di man lang nila inisip
ang mga madadamay. Ma, anong kasalanan ni Bongbong (Raffy Brian) sa kanila?
Si Kuya Weng (De Ocampo), si Uncle Dennis, ikaw Ma? Anong kasalanan natin
para ma-deserve ito?" she said between sobs.

The program was followed by necrological services at the St. Paul Cathedral
officiated by Archbishop Edmundo Abaya.

The marchers then joined a three-kilometer trek to the cemetery, drawing
about a thousand onlookers. Police estimated the crowd at more than 2,000.
Organizers said 5,000 joined the funeral march.

Leaders of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Laban) vowed to fight the
enemies of democracy and help bring justice to Rafanan's family.

Sen. Edgardo Angara, Laban president, said the ambush was a cowardly act.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson scored Malacaņang for its inaction and seeming lack of
interest in solving the ambush-slaying.

Lacson noted that 10 days after the ambush, President Arroyo has yet to
order the PNP and the NBI to work double time for the immediate solution of
the case.

"I find it strange that Malacaņang has been very silent on the Rafanan case
since GMA has this habit of creating task forces whenever there is a
high-profile murder case like the case of YOU spokesman Baron Cervantes and
former NPA chief Rolly Kintanar," Lacson said.

Because of the inaction by Malacaņang on the Rafanan case, Lacson said
there is now a perception that a double standard of justice is prevailing
on the investigation of murder cases involving members of the opposition.

Earlier, Lacson urged PNP investigators to look into the possibility that
the still unidentified suspects behind the Rafanan ambush could be the same
persons responsible for the ambush-slaying of Agustin Chan and his driver
Alex Recacho 15 months ago.

Singson offered his sympathies to Rafanan's family.

"I welcome a thorough investigation of the ambush, not only to clear my
name that has been dragged into the case by my detractors, but also to do
justice to the innocent victims of this violence," he said.  (By JP LOPEZ,
Malaya)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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