By Jun Cinco
Published: February 11, 2013
It has whitewash written all over it.
This was labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno’s reaction to news reports that the National Bureau of Investigation’s findings on the Jan. 6 Atimonan ambush is being reviewed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa before being released to the public.
Ochoa chairs the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, which has admitted approving an intelligence operation on alleged jueteng operator Victor Siman, who was killed in the ambush together with 12 others, and releasing some P100,000 for the said operation.
“Why will Ochoa, who was implicated in this ambush, review the NBI report? The public cannot help but think that the Aquino government is setting up a whitewash,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“This is another nail in the coffin of the Aquino government’s ‘daang matuwid (straight path)’ rhetoric. Perhaps Aquino has become so arrogant about his popularity that he thinks he can get away with helping Ochoa clear his name,” he added.
The labor center said many people think that the Atimonan ambush will benefit a jueteng syndicate that may have been a rival of Siman’s in a turf war.
“Ochoa should not be reviewing the investigation. He should be subjected to the investigation,” Labog said.
“He has a lot of explaining to do. The public cannot help but think that he is connected with jueteng syndicates,” he added.
KMU said Ochoa should explain why the intelligence operation, which his office authorized, ended up with the Atimonan ambush and the death of 13 people.
“As anti-jueteng crusader Archbishop Oscar Cruz said, jueteng killings are usually done in silence. The Atimonan ambush is a rare exception, a hint that the money and power involved are huge,” Labog said.
“It certainly feels like the country is still under Pres. Joseph Estrada. Public officials at the top level are being involved in the illegal numbers game and think they can get away with it,” he added.