ONE OF BICOL PASTOR'S KILLERS HAD ARMY MISSION ORDER
Army Pfc. Lordger Pastrana, the leader of a group of hooded armed men who tortured and killed Methodist Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa in Daraga, Albay on the fateful night of Aug. 5 this year was a soldier who had a mission order authorizing him to carry a firearm outside the headquarters. The case of Sta. Rosa is one of those to be presented before the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) next year.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Army Pfc. Lordger Pastrana, the leader of a group of hooded armed men who tortured and killed Methodist Pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa in Daraga, Albay on the fateful night of Aug. 3 this year was a soldier who had a mission order authorizing him to carry a firearm outside the headquarters.
A copy of the mission order was obtained by the Daraga local police in the course of its investigation into the killing. The mission order and the name of Pastrana were recently mentioned in a report by the human rights alliance Karapatan and also reported by a major daily.
Sta. Rosa is one of 780 victims of extra-judicial killings, as of Nov. 11, under the Arroyo administration. His case is one of many to be presented before the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) in Den Haag, The Netherlands, where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to be tried for violations of the Filipino people’s individual and collective rights, next year.
Based on sworn statements and affidavits by Sta. Rosa’s wife Sonia, the victim’s brothers Jonathan and Ray-Sun, and neighbor Alwin Mirabona, at around 7:30 p.m. that night, three hooded armed men barged into the house of Jonathan and Ray Sun.
The men – two of whom were wearing camouflage pants, combat boots, and dark long-sleeved shirts – were looking for Isaias. They ordered the two brothers to lie on the ground, and then stepped on their heads and pointed guns at them. From his position, Ray Sun was able to observe more hooded armed men positioned amid the bushes. Jonathan tried to look around and was hit with a gun barrel in the head.
Jonathan and Ray Sun were both accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA), which they both denied. They were stripped of their shirts to see if they were armed. Jonathan was then dragged at gunpoint to Isaias’ house a few meters away.
In her affidavit, Sonia said that she and her son Philip were watching TV while Isaias and their daughter April Handem (“Dem-dem”) were watching videos on a laptop computer.
“Habang nagkukuwentuhan sila, biglang may kumatok sa pintuan ng bahay namin at narinig namin ang ‘Manoy...’ (tawag sa Bikolano sa nakatatandang kapatid na lalaki). Pagsilip ko sa pinto, nakita ko si Jonathan (‘Owie’), bunsong kapatid ni Pastor. Wala siyang damit pang-itaas at parang maysakit ang hitsura. Kaya tinawag ko ang aking asawa. Pagsilip naming mag-asawa, bigla at mabilis na pumasok sa bahay namin ang humigit-kumulang sampung armadong kalalakihan na lahat ay nakabonet, tinutukan kami ng mga baril at pinadapa kaming lahat” (As they were talking, someone suddenly knocked on the door and we heard someone calling “Manoy...” [Bicolano term for elder brother]. When I peeped through, I saw Jonathan naked from the waist up and looking in pain. So I called my husband. When we peeped through, more or less ten armed and hooded men suddenly and barged into our house, pointed their guns at us and told us to drop to the floor), Sonia said.
The men, Sonia said, were all wearing black sweatshirts, camouflage pants, and combat shoes – except for the one commanding them, whom she described as wearing a maroon polo shirt, a vest, black shorts, and black rubber shoes.
Isaias’ hands were tied with a nylon cord behind him. In Sonia and Jonathan’s affidavits and sworn statements, they told of Isaias being beaten up as he was forced to admit he was the “Elmer” they were looking for.
Jonathan, Sonia and her three children Dem-dem, Philip and Mikko were brought to a room while Isaias was taken to another. They could hear the soldiers continuing to beat Isaias up, said Sonia and Jonathan. Ray Sun was then brought into the room where Sonia, Jonathan, and the children were.
A few minutes after, the soldiers went out of the house bringing with them the bloodied and still tied-up Isaias, as well as the laptop computer and the mobile phones of the pastor and Mikko.
Sonia ran out and cried for help from her sister Madelyn, who lived nearby. Madelyn roused the neighbors with her cries for help.
From a distance, six shots were heard, and then a pause, and then another three shots. Ray Sun, Jonathan, and the neighbors ran in the direction of the gunshots.
They found Isaias’ bullet-riddled body about 50 meters away from his house. Beside his body was that of a hooded man wearing a maroon shirt, black short pants, and black rubber shoes, as well as a .45 pistol fitted with a silencer.
After a few more minutes, a group of policemen led by Supt. Jose Capinpin, Daraga police chief; and barangay (village) captain Artita Padilla arrived.
They recovered from the scene the pistol, a spent shell from a .45 caliber pistol, and a .45 caliber slug.
From the corpse of the hooded man they recovered a Philippine Army identification card of one Pfc. Lordger Pastrana and a mission order issued to the ID card bearer by the 9th Military Intelligence Battalion of the Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division, based in Camp Weene Martillana in Pili, Camarines Sur. The mission order was signed by Maj. Ernest Rosal and refers to a “secret mission” valid July 1 to Sept. 30, 2006.
A photocopy of the mission order was received by Bulatlat courtesy of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), whose lawyers Rachel Pastores and Amylyn Sato are part of the prosecution panel that will face the PPT next year.
Based on a news item from the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the 9th Infantry Division – which has headquarters at Camp Elias Angeles in Pili – has been under the command of Maj. Gen. Ricardo Nobleza since December 2004.
However, Daraga police investigators ruled that the case was one of robbery with homicide. “Based on the foregoing facts, evidence at hand and sworn statements of the witnesses Cpl. Lordger Pastrana was among the group who abducted and killed Isaias Sta. Rosa and also the robbery hold up (sic) of Alwin Mirabona, Ray Sun Sta. Rosa and Jonathan Sta. Rosa all of Malobago, Daraga, Albay,” wrote SPO1 Alex Moral of the Daraga police in an investigation report dated Aug. 21.
Subsequent investigations by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Region V and a fact-finding team formed by the United Methodist Church (UMC) affirmed that the group led by Pastrana was responsible for the killing of Sta. Rosa.
The findings from both investigations, however, were that there was more to the killing than a mere robbery with homicide. Bulatlat