By PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
January 15, 2007. Wencelito Andanar, DILG undersecretary, broadcast the order of Ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez sacking Gov. Niel D. Tupas and SPs Domingo Oso, Jr. (4th district) and Cecilia Capadosa (2nd district) for grave misconduct, with accessory penalties (perpetual disqualification from public office, and forfeiture of benefits).
The order came as the May 2007 elections loomed and Gutierrez, law partner of FG Mike Arroyo, was fabricating similar decisions firing over 300 elective officials, mostly oppositionists.
That same afternoon, Andanar swore into office Vice Gov. Roberto Armada as governor and SP Manny Gallar vice governor at the DILG Regio 6 office.
January 16, 2007. Evelyn Trompeta, DILG Western Visayas director, “served” the order of dismissal, wading her way through a crowd who were massing up in vigil since rumors spread that Tupas was to be booted out on January 15. Provincial Attorney Salvador P. Cabaluna III refused to accept the order because it was a mere photo-copy.
January 17, 2007. Tension mounted since the morning as hundreds of uniformed and civilian-clad police officers, backed by firetrucks, ambulances, armored personnel carriers and sniffing dogs, swarmed the capitol. Two snipers in black over-alls positioned themselves on top of a nearby building.
PNP Regional Director Wilfredo Dulay ordered the capitol building and grounds vacated before his troops could storm in to flush out Tupas, Oso and Capadosa but negotiations extended the ultimatum.
At around 2 pm, SP Niel “Jun-Jun” Tupas, Jr. arrived from Cebu and announced that a temporary restraining order (TRO) had been issued by the Court of Appeals and asked Dulay for time.
By 4 pm, Dulay ordered his strike force – actually, hoodlums in PNP ranger uniform – to storm the capitol. A company of battle-ready troops broke in by slamming the rear entrance glass doors with a sledgehammer.
One of the advance strike force dropped his pistol in full view of the crowd at the ground floor. The officers forced their way by shoving civilians and training their loaded assault rifles on them, Tupas’s children included.
The dropping of the pistol was intentional: anyone seen picking it up innocently in order to return it to the owner was to be shot for attempting to fire at the police.
This trick was repeated in the evening, when a Tagalog-speaking officer intentionally dropped his transceiver at the ground floor. A civilian alerted him but when the former picked it up, the officer quickly handcuffed the latter’s wrist as the hapless civilian handed him the radio, well, for theft.
The officer was unaware that lawyer Eugenio Original and another companero were just a whisper away. Soon, Provincial Attorney Cabaluna, Atty. Hector Teodosio, and yours truly joined the fray confronting him for the illegal arrest. He called on radio for reinforcement but after hearing shouts challenging him for a fight, he freed his victim.
That incident was among the postscripts of the siege where tyranny was smashed by Ilonggos, rightly or wrongly, who overwhelmingly rooted for Tupas in 2004 and still in 2007 elections both against GMA lackeys.
The Court of Appeals faxed-in the TRO by 4 -5 pm: capitol burst with jubilation.
The attack, broadcast live worldwide, was overkill; Jun-Jun Tupas already announced a forthcoming TRO. Government resources were expended to enforce an idiotic order crafted by Mark Jalandoni, deputy ombudsman for Luzon, and signed by Gutierrez who was described in my column January 18, 2007 “moral pygmy and imbecile disguised as Ombudsman”.
Tupas Sr. was reelected May 2007 by landslide against Vice Gov. Armada, ironically, now his ally since the May 2010 elections. He (Tupas) is now a director in the board of the Philippine National Oil Corporation.
Tupas Jr. won the 5th district congressional race. In July 2010, he initiated impeachment proceedings against Gutierrez; she resigned. Jalandoni quit in disgrace ahead of Gutierrez. His co-rigger of decisions, Emilio Gonzalez III, deputy ombudsman for military affairs, was dismissed earlier for corruption.
Tupas, Oso and Capadosa were charged for “pocketing” P70,000, issued in P50,000- and P20,000-checks. Though the league of provincial legislators duly receipted them, Gutierrez didn’t bother to trace the checks’ trails. The two complaints were filed in February 2006 and resolved in December 2006; one involved an act before 2004 elections whose administrative aspect already vanished by their election, and therefore, should have been dismissed motu proprio.